Hip Hop in Corporate America? Let’s Ask YSL
by Cedric Ross
These are theâ€¦â€œinitials of my Korean name which is coincidentally the same as some high end luxury brand.â€ States YSL. I asked him to give me a snapshot of the state of hip-hop in Seattle and he responded by telling me about the influence of corporate sponsorship in the hip-hop culture. Naturally I was intrigued. The interesting part is I simply set out to interview YSL for enough material to fill a paragraph or two. Two pages later I realized that I needed to rethink my plan. So, here’s what I’m going to do. This will be the first part of a 4 part blog series featuring YSL. If there’s enough interest, we may even consider making this a semi regular thing. Let’s get back to the story.
He shares with me that he’s noticed a trend where corporate America has been using hip-hop culture to promote their products. He pointed out that the hip-hop culture is being used in unconventional ways to send a message to consumers. A blogger from prohiphop.com (a hip hop marketing and business news blog) posted a comment and video about an online marketing and branding firm that created a video using a young performer named Little MG â€œspinning a rapâ€ (rapping) for a branding firm based in Seattle. Go to prohiphop.com to read about it and watch the video. According to YSL, advertising agencies are also using the hip-hop culture as a marketing tool to connect to a younger audience (demographic). As an example, YSL told me to read about Jay Z’s latest venture as the chairman of Steve Stoute’s Translation Advertising company. You can read about it at nytimes.com.
We then moved onto who’s hot in the world of hip-hop. YSL came up with four Seattle artists/groups to look out for and one radio show to pay attention too. Dyme Def is â€œgetting shineâ€ says YSL. â€œThey’re producing music people can vibe with.â€ The next group on YSL’s hot list is Cancer Rising, who are rappers Gatsby and Judas as well as DJ TilesOne. Gatsby (aka Larry Mizell Jr.) Has a weekly column called My Philosophy: Hiphop Ya Don’t Stop in The Stranger (a local magazine). Every member of CR has deep roots in the Seattle hip-hop culture. They’ve even got a green effort going by selling one of their CD’s with used CD jewel cases. YSL points me to the hiphopperss.com article to learn more about it. The third artist is Sonny Bonoho. YSL says he’s fun and he doesn’t take life too seriously. Sonny brings something different to hip-hop. Sonny is currently working on a new album and YSL is looking forward to it. In YSL’s words, â€œSonny has flavor.â€ He also pointed me to bbskate.com to learn more about Sonny’s entrepreneurial business outside of rap. Finally, the one radio show all hip-hop enthusiasts must tune into is Streetsounds. You’ll find Streetsounds on Seattle’s own KEXP 90.3FM. Streetsounds is hosted by DJ B-Mello.
Just before we wrapped things up, YSL told me about one of his daily habits. Going online to 206.proof.com/forum/ and checking out the daily discussions that take place there. He goes there to get the insider’s commentary. Of course, there are a lot of lurkers there. I didn’t ask him what he meant by that.
Next week, I’ll share more about the inner workings of YSL. Stay tuned!
Go to CultureMob.com to find hip-hop events in Seattle.