The Generation That Grew Up On Hip-Hop is Now in the Boardrooms
I don’t know exactly when, but at some point it hit me that a generation who grew up listening to the same music I fell in love with as a kid have become decision-makers in mainstream media.
It could have been the moment I saw the hamsters in the Kia commercial rocking out to Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours” or Tide’s use of Digable Planet’s “Rebirth of Slick.” I remember feeling that a shift had occurred, and that companies not usually associated with hip-hop understood how to get my attention.
See, I’d worked in advertising for several years, so I was fully aware of how tone-deaf agencies and executive producers could be trying to fully understand this constantly shifting culture. Anything approaching the style of hip-hop was referenced via The Black Eyed Peas. And—no disrespect to BEP—but they were so hot at one time that advertisers were doing all they could to create bad imitations of their work.
Using hip-hop stars to push products was nothing new (Jay Z, KRS, and RUN DMC, to name a few), although until then it all just felt like a company misusing the celebrity of my favorite rap star to get me to buy a product. But something about the song selection of the Kia and Tide ads was different. Those marketing wizards knew exactly how to speak to my demographic. And it worked.
This is why I got the same goosebumps when I heard the news that Marvel’s Netflix release, Luke Cage, will have episodes titled after Gang Starr songs.
Wait, what? It’s an undisputed fact that there’s a least one very dope individual in that room! And I’m tuning in for sure. They had me at Gang Starr! Those that know, understand how incredibly sick this is. We’ve arrived!
We’ve grown up with NWA, helped to make that biopic a huge success, saw the President pal around with Hov for some extra cred, and watched Dr. Dre become a billionaire while branding the most popular headphones in the marketplace. Independent hip hop artist Chance the Rapper just singlehandedly forced the Grammys to make streaming-only releases eligible for awards. Hip-hop did all that. The Roots are The Tonight Show‘s band! Wait, what? Jimmy Fallon is a hip-hop head? Another unbelievable moment when I heard that one of my favorite underground hip hop groups were finally going to get the shine they so greatly deserved. It’s official: Hip-hop is double-stitched into the fabric of world culture. A generation of people who are now movers and shakers want to express their love for the art form that defined a major part of their youth. I look forward to seeing this frequent occurrence pop up in other unlikely areas as time progresses. I only hope that when I’m older and still keepin’ it “one hunn’d” that I’ll be able to show my grandkids my wicked backspin.