A Vertical Expanding the Hip Hop Culture
Since the early 1990’s, rap music has become a musical and economic powerhouse. The dominant mouthpiece of hip hop culture is not only a creative genre, but a booming industry. As the money begins to pour in, it begins to morph into new vertical space.
Over the weekend, I had a chance to watch Total Slaughter – PPV Battle Rap Royal. This Eminem promoted event featured some of the top underground battle MC’s.
For those unfamiliar with battle rap, two MC’s throw lyrical daggers at one another in which one person is crowned victor.
The event that was built with much fanfare from battle rap loyalist was Mook vs. Loaded LuX. Each contest rapped in 3 rounds for 5 minutes – each MC had to deliver fifteen minutes of witty rhymes or get booed off the stage.
This lyrical joust of lyrical mastery was mind-boggling. However, what really grabbed my attention was the interview Mook held with Ebro on New York’s Hot 97.
During the interview, the conversation led to how hip hop and rap is evolving. As hip hop continues to get a bit older, folks are finding different ways to
expand the culture.
Hip Hop Vertical Expansion
Rap as an art form is experiencing growth which verticals are sprouting out.
Just to give a bit of clarity – a vertical market is “is one where businesses and marketers cater to the needs of a specific group of people within an industry. This concept contrasts with a horizontal market, where the focus is diverted to a large amount of people regardless of industry.”
As hip hop continues to gain an influx of the younger generation, late Baby Boomers and Generation Xer’s still remain active participants. This is clear with old school DJ’s such as Red Alert to rap acts like Slick Rick still actively tour.
In the early days, hip hop was once regulated simply as rap music. As artists began to take control of their creative material and destiny, they began to expand into other brand elements. We have seen everything from the Jay-Z’s Reebok S. Carter (S.Dot) to the Master P doll.
Rap Vertical Expansion
In terms of expanding rap as an industry, the evolution of a separate industry hasn’t happen as quickly. There has been several underground movements such as underground DVD’s, staging and event touring, and celebratory concierge services.
Largely rap music largely circles around rappers making music and going on tour.
However, the recent surge in battle rapping as a sport is something a little different.
“You got dudes that are battling and they don’t want to make no music.” – Murda Mook
I have learned that this new breed of rapper is not necessarily after putting music hits. As battle rap continues to take form, its beginning to have a strong following that will pay good money. In the interview, Mook talked about how the 1990’s a battle rapper may earn about $2K for a contest. Now, he can earn over $100K for battle.
As this new extension of rap takes off, there are certain goods and services that will begin to emerge. Whereas the music industry looks to standardize selling music and touring, battle rap is sold by a single instance. Battle rappers have to offer a unique rhyme at each appearance. Hence we are witness that battle rap is an emerging vertical that competes with a traditional rap concert.
The battle itself can only be packed and sold as a unique offering. Each contest is singular and distinctive in which Mook vs. Loaded LuX Battle is not touring the nation like WWE.
Thus, promoters and producers have to use alternative means to create an excitement.
For Total Slaughter, Eminem and his team launched a campaign to lead to the event. The campaign included a TV show, full media blitz to name a few.
As Battle Rap continues to mature into the spotlight, supportive mechanisms will be needed that may counter the traditional vehicles of music promotion.
In a earlier blog, I wrote about how the hip hop culture has been a transformative disruptor. It’s a culture that has enabled creators to own and directly sell a product. These entrepreneurs continue to evolve within business. As further products are created, they create industry.
As you push for your goals, what will it take for you to push the boundaries of something that has never been done before?