What about the time when flappers wore short skirts and long hair? (That’s not really an accurate summary of a movement.)
There is something about “hip” that is universal. As hip-hop grew, hipsters became hip-worshipers and people with similar tastes gravitate to the same clubs and drink the same beers.
The thing is, there aren’t any such distinctions in our cultural canon of music. Hip-hop is hip-hip, a word that literally means “the cool.” For decades, people of color and gay people have been writing songs, taking selfies on TV, and recording videos where they perform rap dance moves. These people exist; the culture of rap celebrates them. It treats them as an extension of hip hop, as a genre of music, rather than as a distinct set of traditions, a musical subculture. As a result:
They get treated as extensions, not competitors.
They get ignored when they try to fight the genre’s own power and moneymaking machine.
They are treated as a disposable audience with a few options, including the most blatant and popular one that’s easiest to market to a mass audience, and the one that gets the most exposure.
And when they do make it into the mainstream, they’re not seen as a “rebel” in some way anymore. They are seen as “part of the culture” or “a young up and comer.” This is because hipsters — the hipsters of Rap — have been so successfully assimilated into the culture itself.
And here’s why: The Hipster Culture is a product of market.
Every industry has its own set of buyers and sellers. At the end of the day you make or buy products. Hip-hop seems to come naturally to an audience that has bought so many records. And yet, the whole industry is not just a few big corporate players; it’s a huge network of small buyers and sellers. There isn’t a single buyer of every rapper. Every person in the world who ever listens to a rapper has bought a record. There is a system of production, but it isn’t a perfect system. There are just people who like hip-hop. We don’t think as much of them as some of our other celebrities, but they’re worth listening to too.
And while rappers might appear on billboards and on the radio, the hipster culture never stops existing beyond that. All the rap idols and stars get old.
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