In order to analyze Will Smith's song and video entitled Party Starter, it is important to understand the history of hip-hop music. Hip-hop music was created out of rap music. Rap has been around since the 1970s. It was originally used as a way for inner city African American youths to voice their daily struggles. Most rap songs had a simple beat with words spoken to the rhythm of the beat. These songs were usually upbeat even when the subject matter was serious. There was the impression or hope that things will get better.
Soon, corporate record labels started to repackage rap music as it gained in popularity. The business minded executives were looking to create a wider appeal by erasing hip-hop's historic function. Hip-hop became a business. Rap music was a valuable commodity. In the 1980s, the music was sold back to the streets through marketing ploys such as videos and Top 40 charts. With the rise of rap, a sub-genre called gangsta rap was started. Many rappers went from talking about how they want the killing to stop to talking about them being the ones doing the killing. By the late 1990s, gangsta rap became more common. Many artists did as the records labels wished, to write lyrics that sell. Audiences became more ethnically and economically diverse. Gangsta rap was successfully marketed to rebellious teens in both the inner cities and the suburbs. Business minded artists were pressured to take on the role of "gangsta" or "playa" or "pimp" which lead to large paychecks. Why does this version of rap sell? Because America, especially it's youth, loves sex, drugs and violence.
However, record companies started to get some criticism about the explicit lyrics and videos. This lead to a new era and "studio gangsta" became more common. These were rap artists who would rap about being a gangsta but in reality they had never even held a gun. The stereotypical rap artist and videos were born. They involved big cars, big houses, lots of jewelry and plenty of half naked women. A new lifestyle was created. Many artists started producing songs that had more of a musical element to the music. The new music was labeled hip-hop.
Many of today's hip-hop artists grew up listening to classic rap or at least the 1990s gangsta versions. The lifestyle that was once frowned upon is now glamorized and sought after. Even though hip-hop has become commercially successful, it is still distributed by white dominated corporate America. It is marketed through white dominated, mainstream media outlets. Record companies seek out controversial artists that draw attention and free publicity in the media. Female artists are marketed as sex symbols. If they aren't, their careers are short lived. They may...