Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Does 'Going Pop' Mean Selling Out?


Red Bulletin Magazine


Pop music is an even blend of the five major genres of music: urban, dance, rock, latin and country. Pop music is aimed at the majority of music listeners and appeals to the general audience. Pop music encourages dancing, light-hearted fun, and has little to do with lyrical content. Pop music gets heavy mainstream radio play, and is usually easily memorized. Pop music is simply popular music for the contemporary music listener. With all of these positive qualities, why has pop music become something to be scorned? The instant an artist crosses over from one genre of music to pop music, they are ridiculed and ostracized. “How are you all gone stand by and let our music turn into pop techno cornball music?” said R&B veteran Eryka Badu in a recent tweet. “We don’t own our music [any] more.”

                Although Badu cites ‘pop techno cornball music’ she is really having issues with artists that broaden their musical spectrum to touch the mainstream audience. Artists like Badu, remain somewhat underground in order to uphold a standard that is somewhat imaginary because the only other artists that respect this allegiance are fellow underground artists. The most recent artist to receive some sort of backlash for ‘going pop’ is the only female artist to have multiple personalities, Nicki Minaj. The Queens, New York native began her musical career by attending LaGuardia High School where she studied music, and performing arts. Soon after, Minaj began rapping and released two mix tape records through the underground scene. She went on to win the 2008 Female Underground Artist of The Year Award.

                In August 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Cash Money Records and released her first major record label debut, Pink Friday. Minaj gained a huge following for bringing female rappers back to the forefront of hip-hop. “It’s more about the passion and the response she gets from the listeners” said fellow female rapper Trina in an XXL Magazine interview. “To see her pave her way from nothing to come up to be a topic or a name.” In the eyes of true hip-hop fans, Minaj represented a turning point in urban music.

                Unfortunately, Minaj’s most recent singles have not fostered the same response from her fan base. After hearing her song, Starship, Hot97’s Peter Rosenberg had this to say, “I am a Hip-Hop head, and to be frank, this song here, Starship, is literally one of the most sell-out songs in Hip-Hop history.” Rosenberg disagrees with Minaj’s decision to broaden her audience. He respects her as a rapper, but seemingly loses respect for her once she ‘goes pop’. “I feel like my Hip-Hop fans or Hip-Hop culture starts getting a bit afraid that I’m going to leave” said Minaj in a recent interview with DJ Funk Master Flex. “I’m not going to change –I’m just adding onto my brand.” Minaj isn’t looking to be synonymous with Hip-Hop or urban culture. Like other musical artists she wants to expand and become a part of the popular culture. Sadly, underground artists are loaded with talent, but bankrupt of the mainstream appeal that gets radio play. If being more accessible to a broader audience also means being a sell-out, then the public is placing a glass ceiling above some of our most cherished musical artists. 

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