Hip Hop Industry History

Hip Hop Industry History

Hip Hop Industry History

As promised a week ago, I am fulfilling my promise to write about a hip hop industry, in which major labels and independent labels compete for the deep pockets and hungry imaginations of hip hop fans around the world.

Now, I could have written a whole book on this topic, but for the purposes of time and writing about more important topics... I will keep it brief.

As with most new genres of music, hip hop's initial commercial successes from 1979 to 1986 were with small, independent labels like Sugar Hill and Enjoy. Back in the good old days, only the small mom-and-pop labels had the understanding and the know-how to take raw hip hop from the streets and clubs... and bring it to city-wide and world-wide audiences. As soon as the majors figured out what was going on... they got in on it too. By 1985, Atlantic and Mercury got in on the act, and a whole new breed of small-majors -- Tommy Boy, Def Jam, and Profile -- emerged to bridge the gap between the lowest and the highest levels of the music industry.

The so-called Golden Era of hip hop in the mid 1980s was in large part a golden era because indpendent labels like Tommy Boy and Def Jam started racking up major hits. Taking the cue, labels like Jive, Atlantic, and Elektra began signing fledgling artists across the country. No sooner had the original underground spirit hit mainstream airwaves, when niche marketing started to take over hip hop.

When labels realized there was dope hip hop outside of New York City, niche marketing was born. Fans couldn't get enough of Ice-T, N.W.A. and Too Short... and a whole army of immitators and shoddy knock-offs emerged from coast to coast. Soon, hip hop was not just a New York thing... but simply a black thang. All those die-hard archetypes and everything in between came to the surface: from gangsters and pimps, to class clowns and paper boys, to militant muslims and dangerous derelicts.

In spite of the wide range of characters and...

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