‘73 Til Infinity

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

America’s two biggest exporters are culture and tech. Hip-Hop has been the dominant culture in America since the late 90’s when Hip-Hop went mainstream, and next month kicks off the official 50th anniversary of its birth. It’s beautiful to see this occasion celebrated by so many brands, artists, and fans.

I see so many similarities between Hip-Hop and tech. They are truly interconnected. Hip-Hop has historically used social media more effectively and leveraged the streaming economy more successfully than any other genre. Hip-Hop understands tech and how to build deeper relationships with audiences through it.

I’m grateful for Hip-Hop. It’s been an ever-present part of my life since high school. Like any style of music, it has roots in other styles and forms and its evolution was shaped by many different artists. It was born in NYC and the city was pivotal in its development, but over time so many cities have made it what it is today. Regional sounds continue to be central to its expansion and relevance.

There are a lot of things I’ve learned from Hip-Hop culture, chief among them being:

  • The entrepreneurial spirit. The business acumen of Hip-Hop’s stars changed how we think about popular culture and allowed rappers to transcend music. Hip-hop’s approach to business and product partnerships altered the dynamic between music and brands.
  • Confidence. Hip-Hop’s swagger is so expansive and contagious. It has helped me and many others to overcome hurdles and guide our approach to business and life.
  • Storytelling. Hip-Hop brought pure storytelling in music back from the dead, weaving harsh reality with eye-popping fantasy in a compelling, accessible, poetic, and memorable way.
  • Critical thinking. Hip-Hop helps us think about the world in new ways. It educates on our past and present. It stands up to power in a way the country hasn’t seen since the 1960s.
  • Fashion. Hip-Hop style is ubiquitous. Both luxury and streetwear trends flow through it. Nothing has taught me more about self-expression than Hip-Hop.
  • Community. From the Bronx rec rooms to sold out arenas and afterparties, to be a fan of Hip-Hop puts you in a powerful club. It is an in-group like no other and one that, when focused on lifting all ships, can’t be stopped.
  • Art. Through graffiti and street art culture, Hip-Hop changed the way we write, market, and even build real estate communities.
  • Dance. The Hip-Hop dance scene is unrivaled globally. What once was niche is now bigger than ballet when it comes to self-expression and a viable dance career path or artistic pursuit. Hip-Hop taught me how to move & groove.
  • DJing. Curativity is so important and Hip-Hop DJs were the OGs. Playing the tracks people want to hear makes every situation, from the coffee shop to the cookout, more enjoyable. The DJ is the chief vibes officer.

The beauty of Hip-Hop is that it keeps compounding. While the new generation of stars absolutely stand on the shoulders of Hip-Hop giants, they continue to grow and take ownership of the culture for themselves. I don’t think the forefathers (many of whom are still relevant today) want it any other way.

Cheers to Hip-Hop and another 50 years. L’Chaim. 1973 ‘til infinity…

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Also published on Medium.