The Hip Hop Movement and Commodification of Black Culture

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The Global Transformation of Hip Hop and Commodification of Black Culture After a long day of classes, I plug my iPod into my speakers and start playing music. The first song that comes on is “Swimming Pools” by Kendrick Lamar. I shuffle to the next song. “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons plays. The next song, “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas. As shown here, I have a wide ranging taste in music that notably includes hip hop. Why do I find myself as a suburban, white teenager listening to artists such as Nas and Kendrick Lamar when hip hop has historically been predominantly connected to black America? Many of my friends and acquaintances have also taken a liking to hip hop. How has hip hop transformed from a genre of music almost exclusively enjoyed by African Americans to a genre that has now permeated into white America? The transformation is the direct response to the commodification of African American leisure in urban areas. Recognizing this transformation is an example of displaying a sociological imagination. Let us first explore what brought me to question the transformation of hip hop. What enabled me to discover that such a simple facet of my everyday life was a part of a much larger social transformation of hip hop and black America as a whole? According to C. Wright Mills, it came from having a sociological imagination. Having a sociological imagination is having the ability to locate personal biographies, troubles, and uncertainties in relation to the larger social processes of the modern capitalist world. Mills explains that unfortunately, many are “seldom aware of the intricate connection between patterns of their own lives and the course of world history” (Mills 3,4). Recognizing my role in the expansion of hip hop and what it means for black America on a social scale illustrates sociological thinking. One must ask themselves, how did society
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