What defines hip hop music and what hip hop music has come to represent in culture are two very different phenomena. Hip hop can be instantly recognisable by the canter of rapid-fire vocals and familiar patterns of the 808s. However, hip hop transcends sonic style to embrace an artistic edge that is solely synonymous with the genre.
Since hip hop music was born in the Bronx in the 70s, it has become a way to celebrate, confront and narrate the highs and lows of existence.
Hip hop became a way of seeing the world that resonated in minds across the globe. The popularity of hip hop had plenty to do with how it exposed wealth equality and disparity in 1970s America and offered compassion to everyone that found themselves on the wrong side of the rich-poor divide. Perhaps most importantly, hip hop offered an alternative to apathy for marginalised groups in society, resistance.
Lil Baby, Juice WRLD, Drake, Eminem and Kevin Gates are just a handful of the artists taking up their well-deserved space on the Billboard music charts in 2021. It is safe to say that the cultural influence that established in the 70s is just as essential now than it was back then. If you need any further convincing, look at the change-invoking art that transpired as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hip hop became the soundtrack to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 as the artists paid ode to a tradition much earlier than the invention of hip hop music itself. Fighting oppression was a major theme in the James Brown era of blues music, taking the Isley Brothers and their single, Fight the Power, as a perfect example, but no one fought the power with the same fire as the early hip hop pioneers such as Tupac, Run DMC, De La Soul & Rakim.
A Short History of Hip Hop Music
DJ Kool Herc made history happen in August 1973 when he filled a dancefloor by isolating and extending percussion breaks while spinning the same dance record on twin turntables. The other big-name DJs in the Bronx were paying close attention and found inspiration in Herc’s experimental ethos that was later defined by two principles:
Utilising talent and available resources to create something new.
Emulating others but finding your own voice and groove.
The founding principles of hip hop music go a long way in explaining how the genre evolved so rapidly through the past few decades; it spoke to a growing movement of urban philosophers, poets and visual artists who all wanted to make their impact. Simply put, hip hop became a platform like no other.
The middle-classes did their best to ignore the hip hop revolution, but the pioneers persevered and kept pushing their messages that threatened to shake them out of complacency. Hip hop music attacked everything from urban poverty to racism to economic abandonment. The gangster rap group, N.W.A. shook the world with their iconic track, Fuck Tha Police, in 1988 before the Sugar Hill Gang proved that there was plenty more to hip hop than just aggressive narratives.
Over the years, many things became synonymous with hip hop, from the spoken-word style to the self-awareness of the artists keen to share their social and moral principles with the world. Today, hip hop encompasses a multitude of sub-genres, including, but not limited to, drill, grime, cloud rap, trap, jazz hip hop, boom bap, lo-fi hip hop, hardcore hip hop, mumble rap, nerdcore, breakbeat, ghetto house and emo rap. With artists such as Yungblud, Kae Tempest and Niki Minaj on the airwaves, we probably don’t need to point out that hip hop culture is more diverse than ever.
Submit Hip Hop Music
A&R Factory has been championing hip hop artists since 2012. Since then, we have become lauded and recognised as one of the best hip hop blogs to submit music to for artists looking to expand their reach to an international audience.
We especially want to hear from artists covering experimental ground with their sound, artists paying ode to the old school with their own lyrical flair and those looking to shift perceptions with their introspection. Submit hip hop music to our award-winning blog here.
By partnering with third-party distributors, including DistroKid and Tunecore, Facebook has made it easier than ever for artists to distribute their music on Facebook and Instagram through Stories, Reels, and everywhere Facebook offers a music library. The best part? The quick and seamless service is available at absolutely no cost to the artist.
Through the Independent Artist Program, your music can be available to millions of people across Facebook, so you don’t have to wait for your future fans to find you. The program that puts independent artists and creators content at the forefront launches today, June 16th, 2021.
Whether you are looking to drive fan engagement, become the soundtrack to social experiences or boost your signal after a new release, the innovative service that harnesses the power of social media makes free promotion more accessible than ever before.
A&R Factory’s Take on the Independent Artist Program
A&R Factory has been helping to get artists discovered since 2012, and we are delighted to see Facebook joining the cause in getting talented independent artists discovered.
During the pandemic, we have heard more debut releases and discovered more outstanding talent than ever before. This timely innovation on Facebook’s behalf can be the break that many artists have been waiting for.
Without a major budget, many artists, despite their talent, enter the industry as underdogs; the program is an all too welcome leveling of the playing field that every artist should take advantage of. The viral potential of music stickers, short-form media clips, Reels and shareable lyrics is exponential.
To sign up for the Independent Artist Program, head to the landing page of your chosen distributor.
“Music discovery and sharing is happening in very powerful ways on Facebook and Instagram, so we’re thrilled to be able to support independent artists by ensuring that their music can be distributed through these important channels at no cost. This initiative is a huge benefit to indie artists everywhere and we’re excited to be partnering with Facebook on this program.” – Philip Kaplan, Founder and CEO, DistroKid.
“These days we are seeing a leveling of the playing field as discovery is happening via social media and no longer solely dependent on industry executives and DJs handpicking hits. With the popularity of short form videos, Facebook Stories and Instagram Reels are two important platforms on which fans are finding songs and artists, with careers being made when songs go viral. The Facebook Independent Artist Program provides an even greater gateway for indie artists from around the world to be heard.” – Andreea Gleeson, Co-head and Chief Revenue Officer, TuneCore
For a fourth time Jack Whitehall joined us to lead an entertaining night where we saw ten awards presented.
Coldplay opened the big night with an exclusive performance of their new single ‘Higher Power’, Dua Lipa then delivered an incredible medley of her bops ‘Again’, ‘Physical’, ‘Pretty Please’ and ‘Hallucinate’. US upcoming star Olivia Rodrigo followed, treating us to her debut performance on British soil singing ‘Drivers License’.
First-time BRITs nominee Arlo Parks delivered a beautiful performance of ‘Hope’, which was followed by an epic collab of ‘It’s A Sin’ from icon Sir Elton John and Years & Years. Tuning in live from across the Atlantic – international icon, The Weekend, performed his stunning hit ‘Save Your Tears’ and 2021 Rising Star winner Griff shared a mesmerizing performance of her pop anthem ‘Black Hole’.
Headie One lit up the stage with a double-drill mashup of ‘Princess Cuts’ and ‘Ain’t It Different’ alongside fellow nominees AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey. And closing the amazing night was P!nk (remotely) and Rag’N’Bone Man who sung their powerful ballad ‘Anywhere Away From Here’ and were also joined by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir.
Presenters on the night included Lewis Capaldi, Mabel, Celeste, and more!
Elon Musk will make his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut on May 8. Musk is the CEO and Technoking of Tesla and the Chief Engineer of SpaceX, which launched the second operational flight of its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on April 23.
Miley Cyrus will make her sixth appearance as “SNL” musical guest. Her most recent studio album, “Plastic Hearts,” has garnered over 1 billion streams to date on Spotify.
“Saturday Night Live” is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.
Every season of “SNL” is now streaming on Peacock.
The iconic festival, Glastonbury, is set to receive £900,000 (Over US$1 million) funding after having to cancel in 2020 and 2021.
The Worthy Farm event in the UK is being supported as part of the government’s latest Cultural Recovery Fund announcement, with more than 2,700 organizations being handed grants and loans to help with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
An announcement from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed: “Glastonbury Festival will receive £900,000 (Over US$1 million) to help the festival continue in 2021, with two smaller events this year, as well as to carry the festival through to 2022.”
In a statement, organizers Michael and Emily Eavis said: “We’re extremely grateful to be offered a significant award from the Culture Recovery Fund.
“After losing millions from the cancellation of our last two Festivals, this grant will make a huge difference in helping to secure our future.”
The news comes days after Glastonbury confirmed a special ‘Live at Worthy Farm’ live stream event on May 22 with the likes of Coldplay, Haim and Damon Albarn taking to the stage.
On what fans will be getting for their tickets, Emily added: “We are going to take you on a journey through all of those spots that you know from Worthy Farm – the woods, the railway line, the stone circle, the pyramid, and it’s going to build into this epic journey around the site into the night.”
Accessible only to ticket buyers, the online event will be broadcast in full across four separate time zones, with staggered livestreams for the UK, Europe, Africa & the Middle East, East Coast North America & Central / South America, West Coast North America, and Australia, New Zealand & Asia.
2020 was a challenging year across almost every industry, and few took a bigger hit than the entertainment sector.
With venues around the world shutting their doors and cancelled gigs piling up, many young artists had to postpone their debut.
At the very least, they had to find an alternative way to get their music out and build a fanbase without relying on live performances.
Fortunately for these artists, TikTok came to their rescue, allowing them to grow their career from the comfort and safety of their own home.
So, what’s the deal with TikTok?
TikTok is a popular video-based social platform developed by Chinese tech giant ByteDance in 2018.
The platform started life as two different apps: Musical.ly, which launched in Shanghai in 2014, and Douyin, which was founded by ByteDance in 2016. ByteDance wanted to expand Douyin internationally, and did so under a new name in September 2017: TikTok. They then acquired Musical.ly and folded it into TikTok shortly afterwards in August 2018.
In a nutshell, TikTok allows its users to share videos of up to 60 seconds. These rapid-fire short videos of lip-syncs to popular music and viral challenges delivered via a never-ending feed make for an addictive viewing experience. According to data released by ByteDance, their U.S users open the app eight times a day, with an individual session lasting for about 4.9 minutes, which is reportedly the highest individual session time across all social media platforms.
Since TikTok’s launch in 2018, the app has racked up billions (yes, with a ‘b’) of downloads globally. The highest peak was observed during Q1 2020, which saw global audiences quarantined at home amid COVID-19. Already claiming the coveted status of “most downloaded app” for both 2018 and 2019, in April 2020, TikTok officially reached a staggering 2 billion downloads.
How musicians are using TikTok to grow (and resurrect) their careers
Although TikTok took Gen Z by storm almost instantly, older users needed a little more time to get hooked. But as soon as they did get involved, their demographic has started indulging and creating TikTok content in a big way.
Despite its rapid growth in popularity, TikTok remains a relatively new medium. As the app continues to attract new users, it creates a unique opportunity for young talent to embrace its potential.
To reach mass-awareness on TikTok, users across the world are tapping into trending memes and challenges featuring a mix of chart-topping songs, niche artists and even long-lost hits from decades past.
Matthew Wilder, the artist behind 1984 single ‘Break My Stride’, is enjoying a huge surge in popularity by going viral on TikTok, helping him to climb the charts again almost four decades later:
At time of writing, TikTok users have featured Wilder’s song on their videos over 526K times as a part of the ongoing trend.
What kind of trend could lead to such impressive streaming performance? It involves texting someone the lyrics to ‘Break My Stride’, one line at a time until they figure out what you’re doing; then you film yourself dancing in front of the text chain – and the results are astonishing. The track has recently popped up on Spotify’s Viral 50 and Apple Music’s Top 100 charts around the world, giving it a whole new lease of life.
And what about new artists?
The most famous example of a “TikTok-made” musician is Montero “Lil Nas X” Hill.
Instead of competing with other up-and-coming rappers on more popular streaming services such as SoundCloud or Spotify, this 21-years-old American rapper decided to leverage the potential of a new social media platform. His efforts to promote “Old Town Road” using TikTok proved successful, and the song eventually got picked up as a trending meme, securing millions of streams as a result.
In his interview with Time, Hill commented: “I should maybe be paying TikTok. They really boosted the song. It was getting to the point that it was almost stagnant. When TikTok hit it, almost every day since that, the streams have been up. I credit them a lot.”
TikTok creates opportunities – but can it sustain an artist’s career?
Despite many mainstream bands already taking advantage of the new social video platform, TikTok isn’t reserved only for well-established artists. On the contrary, the platform is known for causing the breakthrough success of many emerging musicians such as Powfu, SAINt JHN, BENEE or Salem Ilese.
Several previously unknown musicians made their name thanks to being a part of the popular trends, memes and challenges thatTikTok thrives on. However, with music always being at the core of TikTok’s value proposition, the discovery of niche artists quickly becomes a massive part of the app’s identity.
Search trends clearly show what we think of as “TikTok songs” are growing in popularity across the world. The app has been incredibly successful so far in generating online streams to springboard lesser-known artists into the charts, as well as driving their explosive social media following.
A UK-based video production studio, Nibble Video, has recently released TikTok earnings data that investigates how much money TikTok artists could make in online royalties as a result of going viral on the platform.
According to Nibble’s report, a Canadian artist, Isaiah Faber – also known as Powfu – could be making as much as £2.3M in royalties from Spotify and YouTube with his single ‘Death Bed’ alone.
“Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head)” samples the 2017 song “Coffee” by UK. indie-pop artist Beabadoobee and tells the story of a man confessing his love while on his deathbed. Since the tune was uploaded to Powfu’s YouTube channel back in April, it has already accumulated over 247M views,as well as being featured in over 5.8M videos on TikTok.
But apart from online royalties, Faber has also benefited from an ever-increasing following across his social media channels. According to data collected by Soundcharts, his fan base on popular social media platforms such as Instagram saw a significant uplift as soon as ‘Death Bed’ took off virally.
Since Powfu is already making a significant profit from online streaming thanks to a single song, it stands to reason that he could benefit greatly from his Instagram presence in the long-term.
With almost 382K followers on Instagram, Powfu could be charging as much as £1.6K for a single post if he’d choose to become a paid influencer. [source: Inkifi]
TikTok’s impact on the music industry
Although there are many examples of artists who have had their music career skyrocket because of TikTok, the social media platform still sparks controversy.
Even with Donald Trump publicly criticising TikTok and demanding a blanket country-wide ban in the US due to privacy concerns, the company behind TikTok is still one of the world’s most profitable start-ups, its value circulating around $50B.
But as the profit of the start-up grows, one question is still being asked – do musicians make enough off their TikTok success?
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has recently launched an inquiry into the economics of music streaming, urging the UK government to look into the business models operated by popular streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. The inquiry aims to evaluate streaming platforms’ economic impact on the music industry for artists, record labels and record shops.
A recent poll by YouGov (on behalf of the #BrokenRecord campaign) found that 77% thought artists are not being paid enough, while 76% felt songwriters were also underpaid. In contrast, the research showed that Universal Music Group recorded whopping revenues of $1.14bn in the last quarter despite the global pandemic and economic downturn.
During the first inquiry hearing last week, equitable remuneration, increased transparency and user-centric streaming models were put forward as ways in which the industry could be reformed and made fairer for artists. At the hearing, Guy Garvey, lead singer of the rock band Elbow, declared that the “system, as it is, is threatening the future of music”.
The multi-year agreement that has been developed in partnership between TikTok and NMPA was apparently designed to “enrich users’ experience and the creators of the music made available by the platform by helping them to get their music seen on a canvas with unlimited avenues for expression”, as noted by the official press release issued by NMPA.
And while TikTok is reportedly getting better at paying royalties for mainstream artists and their distributors, it leaves new and unsigned artists behind in terms of equal compensation.
Yes, it offers excellent publicity and free promotion in front of a multi-million-strong global audience, which can be quite lucrative, especially if you’re lucky enough to get involved in a major trend. But for those who don’t, TikTok does has an alternative.
Back in August, the company announced its first music distribution partnership with indie music distributor United Masters. According to TechCrunch, the deal will allow artists on TikTok to tap into the platform’s ability to make their music go viral, and then distribute their songs directly to other music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
Does this mark the beginning of a whole new future of music discovery? We firmly believe so.
That’s the ethos the team at Spinnup has been operating under for the past few months, since Covid-19 struck and impacted their global community of independent artists. Born from this is Spinnup’s new project, Creators United, an initiative designed to inspire artists to keep up momentum with their music by providing advice, support and a sense of community.
For many Spinnup artists around the world the global pandemic took away their live gigs, songwriting and recording sessions, or even the employment they relied on to fund their music career. Knowing that artists will do what they do best, take a bad situation and turn it into music, Spinnup gave their artists a new platform, providing advice on how to keep making music in lockdown, and a creative outlet to easily release that music for the world to hear.
Creators United combines all-new content skewed to artists in lockdown, a new Spinnup Community Facebook Group, a series of livestream programs, and in the month of May, free single distribution for all artists. This allows all artists to distribute a one or two-track single to the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer (and many more) worry and fee-free. Wanting to share the love further, all artists were given a free release code to share with their music-making mates so they could release a single of their own, free.
Spinnup’s local teams around the world added their own spin, including Spinnup UK’s Lockdown with Spinnup daily livestream performance schedule, with music and fashion magazine, Notion. And in France the Spinnup team ran the Quarantine Challenge competition, and have launched Le Feedback live listening and feedback sessions for artists with their partners at Groover.
Behind the scenes the Spinnup team are working to bring artists more tools, more offers and more support to help them navigate their music careers and keep releasing their music.
As Universal Music Group’s (UMG’s) global DIY distribution service for independent artists, Spinnup helps to discover and sign the best new artists. To date, 80 Spinnup artists have been signed by UMG labels around the world and with every additional new release, breaking artists give themselves a greater chance of being discovered.
Join host Jose Mangin today for the final episode of the virtual take on his festival interview series.
Iconic lifestyle brand, Zippo, and Metal Ambassador™, Jose Mangin, announced a digital version of their festival interview series – ‘Zippo Encore Live with Jose Mangin’.
The series, which launched as interviews captured at festivals in 2017, left the festival fields this year as rock legends join Jose in his studio (remotely, via the power of the internet) to chat about music and creativity in a time of lockdown – all in the name of brightening your day in quarantine. Each week a surprise guest joins Jose, unveiling as the show goes live.
In the past weeks, Jose Mangin has welcomed guests such as Maria Brink from metalcore band In This Moment, M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm members Lzzy and Joe.
Last week, M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold told us: “This whole thing is going to make people and us really appreciate being in large gatherings and go to these shows, I can’t wait to go out and do anything – a restaurant, a show. People are going to be dipping their toes back in slowly and there are going to people who just don’t trust being in a crowd of that many people, so it’ll be a slow and gradual build back”.
Previously in the series, Lzzy from Halestorm said: “During this pandemic, every song I sit down to write is purely for me. For all the creatives out there, we are living in the best time to just do whatever the hell you want.”
Since 2000, Jose Mangin has ruled SiriusXM as Director of Music Programming, and is on-air 12 hours every weekday on Octane and Liquid Metal. On television, Jose hosted Headbangers Ball on MTV2, Latination TV, and several AXS-TV specials. Since 2017, Jose has worked with Zippo as an ambassador for the brand’s Zippo Encore festival program, hosting Zippo Sessions and a video interview series in both the US and the UK.
As music festivals and live music events take a pause for the greater good, Zippo understands the joy that music brings to people’s lives and wants to keep fans spirits high with exclusive conversations between Jose and icons of rock. The final episode will air this Thursday (7th May) at 6pm EDT/3pm PDT on the Zippo Encore Facebook channel, where fans can also view all previous episodes of this year’s series.
Last year saw the 50th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock festival, which was also a big anniversary for Zippo: 50 years since the rumored origins of the lighter in the air moment. The historic encore moment apparently dates to this time in 1969, and since then, the classic Zippo windproof lighter has become a celebrated piece of musical iconography.
Showcasing its expanding roster of innovative artists, independent label Red Bull Records has announced its first-ever Virtual Festival, airing Friday, May 1 exclusively on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
Highlighting a lineup of diverse and cutting-edge talent, the multi-genre livestreamed festival will feature intimate at-home performances from Red Bull Records artists, exclusive content, surprise guest appearances and more, entertaining fans across the globe while staying indoors.
Hosted by DJ and television/radio host Hannah Rad, Red Bull Records Virtual Festival will include sets from pop quartet The Aces, hardcore band Beartooth, rapper/producer Blxst, UK alt-pop trio Flawes, indie melodist Gavin Haley, hip-hop artists Kofi and pineappleCITI, and singer-songwriter Sad Alex, with more to be announced.
Red Bull Records Virtual Festival will be airing live on Friday, May 1 at 11AM PST / 2PM EST / 7PM GMT and will help to raise awareness for MusiCares artist support efforts. Follow Red Bull Records on Instagram and Twitter for additional details and festival announcements.
If you’re looking for psychotropic aural escapism Astral Elevator has you covered with the Psych Rising, happening in Manchester on October 5th.
On any given night in Manchester, you’ll find an array of gigs to stumble into, but once again Astral Elevator has deftly curated a line up of the finest Psych Rock, Shoegaze, Garage Rock, Post-Punk, and Psych-Doom which you definitely won’t want to miss out on.
Amongst the 15 bands performing across the two stages (no clashes!), you’ll spot the leaders in the revival of psychedelic tones along with promising up and coming talent ready to offer ascension through their colourfully riotous riffs.
In running order, here’s the international array of bands who make it more than obvious why they made the cut.
Hazel’s Maze – Cheshire-based Alt Rock offering Melodiously cathartic, ethereally captivating tones.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Sauce – Manchester-based fourpiece renowned for their refreshingly authentic wholesome Rock vibes. It’s like being thrown back to the 90s when everyone seemed to love each other a little more. Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Korto – Punchy riotous supersonic Kraut Rock three-piece bringing their high-octane, sporadically chaotic energy all the way from the French Alps.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
PALE RIDER – One of Liverpool’s most promising newcomers ready to spill their kaleidoscopically nostalgic aural alchemy. Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
The Kundalini Genie – Quintessentially captivating hazy melodic Psych Pop reviving the 60s style with Indian Classical, Blues, Folk, and Jazz thrown in for good effect. Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Hey Bulldog – Containing easily one of the best guitarists in Manchester, the three-piece will prove exactly why they’re worthy of that accolade as they blend sonic futurism with rhythmic vintage nostalgia.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Kill Your Boyfriend – 2 Piece band flying in from Venice to leave us slightly disconcerted with their dark noisy Shoegaze-laden Post Punk. Imagine PIL and Magazine with a psych infusion and you’ve got Kill Your Boyfriend.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
SeRvo – Cavernously phantasmic ambient Psychedelia from a uniquely captivating French artist renowned for making Shoegaze colder than we’ve ever heard it before.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Frankie Teardrop Dead – A highly acclaimed Manchester-based Dream-Wave act who fuse Psychedelia with roots-deep Rock n Roll to spill enough catharsis to lull to you into a state of colourful euphoric bliss.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Psychic Lemon – Masterfully crafted Space Rock from the Cambridge-based act who have given the revival of Psych Rock a brand-new trajectory.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Phobophobes – The South London Six-piece utilise their serpentine sordid rhythms to flirt with nostalgic tonality whilst simultaneously gripping you with their modern magnetic air of aural dejection. This set is definitely not to be missed.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
The Telescopes – After the release of their 11th studio album, the Telescopes are ready to bring their consciousness-expanding soundscapes to Manchester once more. Expect a stripped and exposed bed of Psychedelic Indie.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
The Gluts – The Milan-based fourpiece will be bringing their atmospherically-charged brand of Noisy Psych-steeped experimental Post Punk to douse you in blistering progressions of over-driven guitars.
Artist Links: Facebook, Spotify
Gnod – Raging Psychedelic Noise from the Manchester-based collective who have been rearranging synapses since 2006 with their caustically indulgent sound.
Artist Links: Spotify
Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska – Rounding off the live acts will be the Psych Krautrock band who endearingly describe themselves as being the “UK’s Worst Hawkwind tribute band” – we definitely don’t agree.
Artist Links: Facebook,Spotify
Info: 5th Oct 13:00 – 03:30, Night People & Twisted Wheel, Manchester, £35 + bf
Tickets for the event are now on final release and can be purchased via Skiddle
For more info, head over to the Facebook event page.