Rap & Convergence Culture

Despite the fact that I take in pop culture on a daily basis, when posed with the question “What popular culture do you consume?” I was kinda stumped.

Not because I’m not familiar with the ideas surrounding it but rather because I’m too numb to it all, to the point where I consume pop culture so frequently I am unaware of it.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the main form of pop culture I take in is through the facet of music and the artists that create it. 

I’ve always been a fan of Hip-Hop and Rap and this is evident in the way I consume the genre on a daily basis. Ever since I first heard Eminem’s early 2000’s music blaring throughout my house as a youngster and watched the popularity of rappers like Lil Wayne & T.I soar in the 2010’s I was captivated by the genre as it has been prevalent throughout the entirety of my life. With approximately 12% of the songs on the Billboard top 100’s chart being rap it became the most popular genre in the world in 2018 (Nielsen, 2018), this is evident in the way that the culture of the music has become so prominent around the world. 

Convergence culture has become a major aspect in the rise of rap over the years for a multitude of reasons ranging from memes to conversations on Twitter and YouTube. 

With rap’s growth in popularity coinciding with the increasing use of memes it allowed the two different forms of pop culture to converge as a way to grow, this was evident in the way that rap artists and lyrics became memes. Artists such as Soulja Boy, Kanye West & Lil Wayne were the focal point of alot of memes and the sharing of this content allowed the genre to expand and grow it’s following. This growth correlates to Henry Jenkins’s notion of convergence culture where he says that when the audience becomes the user, media technology has given the audience the tools to “archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate content” (Jenkins, 2006). In essence, when the rap audience is presented with the culture, music and artists at a similar time as meme culture, they’re given the opportunity to create and circulate their own content. These ideas are still relevant in 2020 as rap and it’s culture remains a large influence in meme culture today.

The Drake Hotline Bling is arguably one of the most popular and commonly used meme templates

Similarly, YouTube and Twitter play a large role in being the forums where hip hop fans can discuss and converse over the genre and the artists within it. This can be seen with YouTubers who react to albums and share their thoughts on news surrounding the genre, such as content creator Anthony Fantano. This willingness by audiences to find and create their own ways of spreading information and sharing their opinions relates to a different piece regarding Convergence culture in which he states;

“ … convergence represents a shift in cultural logic, whereby consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections between dispersed media content”

Jenkins, 2006
The popular YouTuber Anthony Fantano has created a successful career from his music reviews and sharing his thoughts on many rap genres, including rap & hip-hop.

With all this being said, a large reason I am such a big fan of Hip Hop is because of the impact that convergence culture has had on its progression and development since its inception.

Reference List

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