Hip-Hop Vs. EDM: A Strikingly Similar Rise?
“The more familiar one is with history, the more perspective one has on today.” – M. Medley
All around the world, electronic dance music (EDM) and hip-hop are steadily reaching more people. Both genres started out in relatively small demographics. Hip-hop began in the 1970s, in African-American communities and went decades before being accepted as a mainstream genre that is heard on popular radio stations. EDM began in the 1990s, and was a part of the underground rave scene that has been associated with the use of club drugs like MDMA/Ecstasy. Today, EDM is rapidly making its way onto commercial radio stations as well, and the summer festivals that showcase the hottest artists are getting bigger and more profitable every year. If one were to look at the origins and the rise to popularity each genre has had over the decades, they are strikingly similar.
When hip-hop began to get seriously noticed by the masses, many viewed it as controversial. Suburban kids were listening to music made by artists from the inner city, often rapping about crime and lifestyles foreign to their own. Radio stations were at first very hesitant to play hip-hop and during the mid-80s they would only play it at certain times of night. However, as public demand increased, hip-hop steadily worked its way into becoming a genre that was heard on airwaves by people from all walks of life, though, not without its run-ins with authority. One such memorable instance occurred in 1989 when the group N.W.A. received a letter from the FBI stating that their song, “F*ck The Police” was encouraging violence against police officers.
Today it is without a doubt that hip-hop has survived the controversies and now there is nothing surprising about hearing a hip-hop song used in a TV commercial, or while driving the kids to soccer practice. Many would say that the genre has sold-out, is more commercialized, and gone away from its roots.
EDM has had a very similar trajectory since it was founded. When EDM started, it was part of an underground community that had a reputation of being counter-culture and rebellious. The last place one would hear EDM was on the radio, and before the Internet became easily accessible it was not easy to find. Throughout the 2000s, the genre has risen in popularity, and has made its way into the mainstream. Summer festivals pack thousands to enjoy the music and in just the past few years, commercial radio stations have been playing songs by EDM artists. Pop artists and hip-hop artists are collaborating with EDM artists, noticing the trend going upwards.
Although the genre is moving forward, there are many people who view it as controversial. Since EDM and the rave scene are associated with drug use, there is a stigma that some attach to the genre. Heavy police presence and extra security at concerts and festivals is not uncommon.
Retaining Roots Vs. Selling Out
Despite the controversial elements of the EDM scene, it is exploding much like hip-hop did when it made its way into the mainstream and is only on the rise. Although this is beneficial for the marketability and the reach the genre has, there are some who feel that the genre as a whole is “selling-out” the way many feel hip-hop has done in recent years. Hearing the music on the radio has its benefits of exposing it to people who would have not otherwise heard it, but it also brings with it the possibility of being commercially tainted and not true to the roots of the genre. When corporations are sponsoring EDM festivals, it is not hard to imagine a raver who was going to underground concerts in the 1990s shake his head, the same way some hip-hop fans do when they see Ice Cube doing family movies 25 years after releasing that song that grabbed the attention of the FBI.
These two genres have stood the test of time and are continuing to rise, but in their rise in popularity, has the quality of music declined? Like anything else when it comes to music, it is a matter of personal opinion. But like anything else, the more familiar one is with history, the more perspective one has on today.