How Music Got Its Edge Back: Indie Meets Rap

Hip-Hop and rap are experiencing a strong resurgence of late (don’t call it a comeback!). After years of indie rock and pop ruling the airwaves, young people are looking for a new sound to call their own, branching out into electronic and rediscovering rap.At SXSW this year, fans could catch shows from heavy hitters including Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Wiz Kalifa, as well as lesser-known acts.Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are headlining Coachella this summer.

The meshing of the indie and rap scenes is having an interesting effect on music. Taking a cue from indie bands, newer acts like Azealia Banks are creating a new sound that could almost be called “Indie Rap.” The Harlem-native’s songs are most definitely “R-rated” and fierce, but instead of rhyming about “thug life,” she raps about urban life, making her badass, but also relatable. It’s that cross-over potential that brings both rap fans and indie fans to her shows.

Urban music needed an infusion of edge to recapture the attention of young people. Hip-hop legends like Jay-Z and Kanye have gone mainstream, getting wider airplay and gaining older fans (while simultaneously cleaning up their style, rapping less about illegal activities and more about luxury lifestyle). Young music fans were looking for something to call their own — music their parents wouldn’t listen to but that they could still relate to. It’s the same reason they’re straying away from the indie genre: hipsters and soccer moms aren’t supposed to like the same music.

In the same vein as acts like Odd Future, Azealia Banks is making her mark by being irreverent and very NSFW, simultaneously alienating older audiences and intriguing young Millennials. The video for her biggest hit so far, “212,” has been viewed more than 7.5 million times, but contains so many naughty…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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