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Comparison Essay; Is Hip-Hop a Global Phenomenon?

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Is Hip-Hop a Global Phenomenon?

Hip-hop has been fighting for the spotlight in mainstream America for more than thirty years. However, Jeff Chang and Marcus Reeves agree that it has become more of a global phenomenon. Jeff Chang makes his case in "It's a Hip-Hop World," and Marcus Reeves states his claims in "The Wrap on Rap." Chang explains that people all over the world are accepting and adapting to hip-hop. Yet he criticizes how hip-hop has become too commercialized. While Reeves agrees with Chang about hip-hop becoming a global phenomenon, he stresses how well the use of hip-hop has made an impact on political issues.

Reeves and Chang both clearly state that hip-hop has become a global phenomenon. Chang states "[n]ow, from Shanghai to Nairobi to Sao Paulo, hip-hop is evolving into a truly global art of communication (58). Both authors agree that hip-hop has become a way for youth to express their feelings without using violence. Reeves explains that "[b]lack and Brown youth turned destructive elements of gangs into a platform of style, self expression and individuality" (22). Hip-hip is a safe way for youth to express their feelings of anger and frustration, instead of through violence. Even though both authors agree that hip-hop is becoming a global phenomenon, they do disagree on how it is sold.

Chang feels that the way hip-hop is presented has gone too far. That industry itself has become too commercialized. He feels it has become more about the endorsements than the actual message of the lyrics. Chang gives an example of rapper 50 Cent, "In 2004, he agreed to endorse flavored beverage Vitamin Water for a small stake in Glaceau, the company that produced it. In June, Coca Cola purchased Glaceau for $4.1 billion. When the deal closed, 50 Cent walked away with a rumored $100 million overnight, just for lending his name to a drink"(61).

If these types of endorsements continue to proceed then rappers will become more like business men than musicians. Chang highlights that "[m]ore than 59 million rap albums were sold in the United States alone last year. But that number only represents a small number of hip-hop's influence"(60). The hip-hop industry has become the trend-setting genre; "[n]ot just in movies, shoes and clothing but in everything from snack cracker and soda drinks to cars and computers" (Chang 61). Due to the large amount of money involved with endorsements, Chang feels the message of hip-hop is being lost.

Reeves on the other hand, feels that hip-hop plays an important role in political issues. He identifies "[r]appers such as Run-DMC, The fearless Four, The Furios Five's Melle Mel and Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force were becoming young prophets on the Black radio's airwaves, sounding off on a variety of topics, from racism to nuclear proliferation"(23) He feels

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