Hip-hop’s revolutionary roots are often glossed over and dismissed by those quick to decry theart-form as violent and misogynistic, with an unhealthy obsession with celebrity culture and ostentatious displays of wealth.
But this ignores the culture's deep, rich history in protest and politics, born as it was from the sound systems of Kingston, Jamaica, and the social upheaval and struggles in the South Bronx in the 60's and 70's, not to mention the racial segregation that existed in the immediately preceding decades.
Hip-hop has found its revolutionary voice once again, with recent YG track 'FDT' making headlines and the new Joey Bada$$ track 'Land of the Free' with it's unsettling accompanying video (below). Common's latest record 'Black America Again' has the hallmarks of protest songs from years gone by, and Killer Mike has become an instrumental voice in the Black Lives Matter movement that has taken hold of the US.
And it’s not just hip-hop that’s bringing the noise to those in power, the whole art scene suddenly has a role again in protest and movement-making as people wrestle with a new world order that increasingly rejects traditional institutions in favour of new - and often divisive - ones.
So what does this mean for brands? Trevor Hardy, CEO of Future Laboratory, believes that ultimately what we're seeing is an erosion of trust, and it is the job of successful brands to shape a vision of a future that consumers buy into. Not making amends for past mistakes, but painting a positive roadmap that people can truly get behind.
This, Trevor suggests, will lead to a new phase of radical transparency. "Radical transparency will become more popular to overcome a feeling that many organisations have ulterior motives and hidden agendas. This goes far beyond corporate social responsibility – we will see brands take on roles that were normally fulfilled by states and society. "
There is of course, a fine line between taking a stand and being purely opportunistic and bandwagon-jumping, and consumers are become better at distinguishing between the two, and calling out brands that fall into the latter camp.
C.U.L.T final thoughts:
Could your brand become a new order revolutionary?
Are you living up to your customers need for transparency?
Listen to the arts, don't rush to appropriate them.