Hip-Hop Sub-Culture and the Black Eyed Peas

Topics: Subculture, Popular culture, Culture Pages: 5 (1763 words) Published: November 23, 2012
Let's Rap About Love: A Journey to the End of Hate

One song, that I think had a great effect on many sub-cultures all over the world, and was one of the first hip hop songs to have a really universal meaning is: “Where is the Love,” by The Black-Eyed Peas. In this song, they question everyone's ideologies regarding prejudice, and outlet their feelings towards racism, war, intolerance, greed, United States politics, terrorism, media, and love. Their hip hop sub-culture is seen in their clothing, and lyrics. However, they agreed to mainstream or sacrifice some of their original style in order to gain wider acceptance, which contrasts their main message. The reasons for this song's success can be identified through the band's sub-cultures, its diverse member composition, their style, the time period the song reflects, and their highly relatable message.

Popular culture is composed of numerous subcultures, which all have intertwined relationships and influences. To procreate, musically physically or mentally is the essence of what is right in the world. Haphazardly, one can ingest this information along with millions of other messages from the media including song-lyrics. However, when one finds a song with a deeper meaning, or a symbolic reference, or even a controversial vibe, it tends to stick in one's mind better, and result in massive amounts of sharing, because it is human nature to share one's experiences with others. This is how popular culture, or hegemony is brought upon humans who have friends or own a computer. Hegemony, in my view, is another word for ephemeral popularity that appears to be natural, but is in fact pervasively imbedded into our sub-consciousness by social interactions. If there were only fifty people on the earth, their hegemony would be quite static and unchanging. When you quantify this example into modern standards, the amount of people, interactions, and sub-cultures happening at least 1 million times per second is dizzying.

The Black Eyed-Peas were sadly influenced by hegemony, or the trend of mass coalescence or settling towards certain ideologies due to social pressure. They admitted to changing their more hip hop and rap focused style with strange rhymes and silly lyrics to a more main-stream pop sound for their third album. Contrastingly, the main message of their song, “Where is the Love,” challenges people to oppose the dominant ideology that wealth is power, and that to belong is to blend in. They are trying to lead us towards unity and peace, but how can they do this while being so shallow and industry-driven? Nonetheless, their song had an overwhelming effect on those who were- and probably still are- blindly herded like sheep through their everyday routines and guided by ideological goals because they are so heavily influenced by the media, their sub-culture, and their expected or 'natural' values of their “habitus”. Carl Wilson describes one's, “habitus,” as the unconscious influences that define a person.4 Of course, after reading Dick Hebdige's book “Subculture: the Meaning of Taste,” I now know that these values only appear to be natural, because all oppositional values or connotative codes are not seen as regularly and have slowly become obsolete.

The groups social dynamic is quite diverse. It consists of two African-american males, a Mexican-American and one extremely beautiful Caucasian female. This unlikely combination contrasts general racial stereotypes, and consequently widens their fan-base or appeal because more people can relate to more cultural back-grounds or ethnicities. It also sets the perfect precedence for portraying 'the love,' between different races that they are so adamant about. The addition of Justin Timberlake's vocals in the chorus and his own lyrics, add to the song's aspiration for acceptance in popular culture, because Justin Timberlake at that time was an extremely popular singer and celebrity.

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