Crossover Music: Good or Bad for Hip Hip?

Back in the day you used to be called a Sucka for making Crossover music. Whether it was a question of you still keeping it real or sacrificing your content for the almighty dollar, it wasn’t a good look for you:

Now, I hate to use this video and artist as an example because I love their music, but he is and this song is a great example of what could be considered as a Pop Goes the Weasel Video, “Sellout.. The Rap Definition” Crossover attempt from a Hip Hop Artist.

Was this evolution in music the so called “Death of Hip Hip”?

On Facebook

0 Comments

  • aka Tito

    Reply Reply August 12, 2008

    I was watching “The 5 Heartbeats” last night and the movie touched on this topic. Why do we always have to crossover? You think Tommy Lee’s agent is telling him that he needs to have more “thump” in his music to attract a Blacker audience? Then what happens…? They crossover, the song is whack, and they can’t cross back. Isn’t the point of being a musician unadulterated self-expression?

  • Terrence

    Reply Reply August 12, 2008

    I was always conflicted by this question. Because to me there’s a clear difference between Black music that naturally appeals to diverse audiences and music that’s formulated to meet top-40 criteria.

    Hammer was the first lab-rat sacrificed in the debate- I think very few could argue that ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em’ was more his authentic style than ‘The Funky Headhunter’, yet he was crucified in Black music circles for having a style that was ‘commercial’, and was crucified again for making The Funky Headhunter by all, knowing that Gangsta was not his style. I believe that due to the timing of all this, Hammer was essentially blacklisted from heavy-rotation, pop and Black stations alike.

    The second lab-rat sacrificed, although for a different reason, was Milli Vanilli. Sure the cats couldn’t sing(but neither can Britney Spears). They were crucified for performing with dubbed tracks at concerts, as we all know.

    Look at the industry now- most of the hip-hop artists that are on top are there due primary to their crossover appeal!!! And outside of live bands, there is almost no artist that doesn’t perform with partial or full vocal dubbed music tracks at their concerts!!

    My point is, when you look over the history of modern music in this country, almost all the groundbreaking evolutions were made by Black artists and almost none of them escaped significant damage if not death blows to their careers for bucking conventional thought(in other words, it was because they wern’t the idea of White record execs).

  • Kendrick "Drack" Muse

    Reply Reply August 12, 2008

    Even EPMD would not call someone like Ray Charles or Prince “crossover”. Even more relative, they would never diss Run DMC for dabbling in Rock music. It was the same back then as it is now… people only diss the Flavor of the Month. Dang… how can I be so lucky to get dissed like that?

  • Leo

    Reply Reply August 12, 2008

    I can’t wait until “hip-hop” finally dies…so that people can stop hating on the south. Long live the Southern Funk Musik!!!!!!!

  • Guttersnipe

    Reply Reply August 12, 2008

    Hey Playa, lovin the EPMD Cross-Colors throwback on the social commentary of the day – aka selling out! Whats really crossover are those burnt out buildings in the background cause those joints are now Condos.

    Lets be real, the crossover is here to stay, but a well-done joint – if perfected and given real thought – will be accepted. Think – Nelly’s joint with that country music Cat. Besides most anyone under the age of 38 missed much of real Hip Hop/ Funk/ and Disco era anyway. By the way, that crap coming out the South now is not Funk – its booty! Think Cameo at least.

    That Daft Punk – Kanye rap is Shitte! I mean Daft Punk itself has made so many bangin electro joints that they kinda singlehandly brought the funk back in a Kraftwerk soughta way. They must of felt this is whack, but we will do it Kanye anyway.

    Kanye lost the plot a while back – where’s the “Grit” and loopy ass lyrics to make you think….. I know he’s playin the playboy routine but grit cant be faked really.

    On another level, I watched perform in Cape Town for 12,000 people. He was doing ok, but all of sudden he forgot his own rap – we were stunned. He got Booooooooo!

    He then came to my club (at the time) for the after joint and isolated himself for like an hour talking to no one. We all thought it was rather bitch-like. Then all of sudden he appeared in the DJ booth like we were supposed to be overwhelmed. We wanted him to leave. Even his handlers were not bemused. With that said – it a wrap.

  • Billy Batson

    Reply Reply August 21, 2008

    that’s tough comparing a video/song from ’92 (EPMD – Crossover) to something that came out in 2007 (Kanye/ Stronger) – so much has changed in the landscape of commercial music in terms of radio & video it’s almost an unfair comparison. In ’92 hip-hop/ rap music was nowhere near the dominant force on the airwaves that it’s been for the last 5 years.

    all that said why would “Stronger” be considered a crossover record? Because Kanye sampled Daft Punk? Isn’t hip-hop’s foundation sampling? If anything Ye’s record was almost closer to the root of a b-boy record sampling a Daft Punk record – like someone said above it’s close to Kraftwerk which was sampled by a lot of cats in the early days

    And quiet as kept: that EPMD record was their ‘attempt’ at making a song that was going to get major airplay – but at least they had a foundation due to their core fanbase and sampled something that was not out of their relam in terms of where they existed musically in the 3 albums prior.

    My bar is when artist tend to go out of their zone to make records to try to get a quick buck they are probably in crossover mode- like when Nas made that record w/ Ginuwine (horrible attempt IMO at making a commercial record) vs Kanye who makes a “Jesus Walks” which was a HUGE record for him when it dropped but he was not accused of selling out.

    just my .02

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field