WORDS : ELEANOR FORREST


Hip hop and alternative music are an unlikely creative duo that both musicians and fans can’t seem to get enough of. The cross-genre collaborations that we know and rave about bridge the worlds of alternative rock and hip hop to create powerhouse tracks from Anthrax and Public Enemy’s ‘Bring the Noise’ and Gorillaz and Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s ‘Clint Eastwood’. As well as terrific live performances such as the explosive Family Values Tour that saw Ice Cube take the stage with the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit

hip hop serves as the vocalisation of the injustices and racial discrimination that the African-American community continue to face. Whereas alternative was born out of a rejection of the commercialisation of American culture and those values

It perhaps seems strange that key figures in these juxtaposing genres would create together, on a whole, their sounds and styles are different so much so that you could argue that they are the complete opposites of each other. Furthermore, the reasons these two genres exist in music industry are the result different origins; hip hop serves as the vocalisation of the injustices and racial discrimination that the African-American community continue to face. Whereas alternative was born out of a rejection of the commercialisation of American culture and those values and norms that a 70s political conservative government was promoting. 

Though both genres have been viewed negatively in the mainstream media, depicting them as precursors to violence and crime in teenagers being the most common excuse, the differences in their overall messages and origins has led to a generally more negative view on one over the other. Out of the two, hip hop is continuously dealt the harsher hand. 

Since key figures in the hip hop genre such as the N.W.A gained recognition they also faced increasing backlash and criticism, namely for glorifying drugs and crime. Major players of the genre were treated with contempt; viewed as negative societal influences for simply expressing their experiences of racism and police brutality. The persistence of these criticisms is significant in that the general population are uncomfortable with the fact that drugs and crime persist but more significantly of systemic racism against people of colour in the U.S. and the wider world.

At the heart of these genres is an urging for people to wake up and take note from the reality around them and say what they think

Both genres have been viewed in the West negatively but where alternative has on the whole been viewed as nuisance, hip hop has been viewed as a threat. Which can only be attributed to the fact that the majority of major players in the genre are African-American or people of colour whereas alternative is not.

Despite the differences in how mainstream media has regarded these opposing genres the collaborations between these two groups have proven to create some of the most well known tracks of their generation. Take ‘Walk This Way’ by Run DMC and Aerosmith, you can recognise that famous melody whether you’re a fan of both genres, one of them, or none of them. 

In large part this is because the juxtaposition in their sounds compliment each other like no other. This can be credited to the similarities the genre’s share and though their origins are different they both embody tropes of socio-political commentary, typifying the era that they began in.

Gaining recognition in 1970s America it was the time when people began taking more political action than ever before. Women, the African-American and LGBTQ+ communities were continuing the fight for equality and anti-war protests signified a marked departure from societal acceptance and trust in an increasingly conservative government. 

At the heart of these genres is an urging for people to wake up and take note from the reality around them and say what they think. 

collaborations diversify each sound and provide fans with an alternative outlet that they might not have thought was for them

This is demonstrative in the energy of their music and it’s this energy that creates that bridge between the two genres. They possess an unquenchable fire in their sound that not only demands you move your feet but lets the listener enjoy a level of energy and emotional intensity that real life rarely lets us act out. There’s only so much of your mind you can speak to your boss. 

These collaborations diversify each sound and provide fans with an alternative outlet that they might not have thought was for them. We are creatures of habit; people rarely search out new music, even if we think we do, we’re usually searching for a new sound that branches from what we already know and enjoy. By having Jay Z perform with the likes of Linkin Park it allows the sound and the message from these genres to be promoted and respected in clubs and communities  that might not have interacted with those sounds, bringing with it a new appreciation.

Collaborations create a strong bridge between the two individually loved genres, allowing for the evolution of not just music itself but the fans and people who love it. 

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