How the American and Canadian mainstream music industries affects popular culture.
Although the music industry’s depiction of today’s youth is unrealistic in its exemplification of money and luxury goods and based on consumerism, there are many positive elements involved in much of today’s popular music, such as artists who support positive images and role models, and the ability to independently release your own personal work across the internet and some other mass media platforms. Specifically, hip-hop and rap music tends to come under fire in the mass media as being a negative force in the lives of current youth. But are the positive elements of this industry going unmentioned? Despite its popularity, rap and hip-hop music are still responsible for some of the most controversial content available to the public through the mass media (Iwamoto, 2007, p. 337). The lifestyles described as desirable by the rap music industry advocate crime, drugs, alcoholism, and promiscuity, but what of the positive aspects of this category of culture?
Rap and hip-hop provide a world that very few members of the youth population are able to attain, yet identify with nonetheless. The idea of being accepted into a group where all the needs and wants of its members are met (the very doctrine of the hip hop lifestyle being money and the ability to have whatever you desire) is very enticing to the average member of the materialist youth society. Belonging is also a huge desire in today’s youth. The need to belong and be accepted is as strong as ever, and the hip-hop music industry feeds on this as well, and in that aspect is not such a negative thing. Giving youth the ability to interact with each other and to aid in the development of friendship groups is certainly a positive aspect of the mainstream music scene. The development of “cool” has always created groups in the past; and it is certainly arguable to claim that popular music will continue to create groups in its own image. However, the relevant issue is to whether or not the groups created from these musical influences are more inclined to generate positive or negative behaviour.
Many popular musicians use their pop culture status to promote charity work, environmentalist causes, and other positive movements. For example, U2’s front man Bono has urged his fan group to support the Aids awareness cause in Africa. Similarly, hip-hop artists have in the past stood for more positive points then are typically granted by the stereotype of the hip hop life. For example, on the local front, Canadian hip-hop artists have recently joined the fight for a more ethnically diverse bone marrow registry in Canada. These movements are certainly positive, and add constructive role modelling to the typical popular artist’s image.