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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "My favorite place to shop online is Sephora, because I love high end makeup and I love reading about what's new and watching tutorials on how it works.” –Female, 26, MA

We’ve seen everyone from food startups to fast-food chains label their food “artisanal” to appeal to Millennials—and there is good reason. It turns out there is generation gap when it comes to consumers’ reaction to “artisanal” and “craft.”  Millennials are more likely than older consumers to say that the labels “handmade/handcrafted, “craft,” and “small batch” tell them a product is high quality, and also more likely to say that descriptors like “artisan/artisanal” have some influence on their purchases. (MediaPost)

To sell wine to Millennials, brands have had to drop the exclusivity and embrace a more unpretentious attitude. Sparkling wine brand Chandon is relying on Instagram to get their bubbly message across to young females, making it their top social platform, over Pinterest. Their colorful, summertime images, featuring captions like “Today calls for Rosé,” are a part of their effort to get sparkling wine “out of the holiday rut.” (Digiday)

Older generations who hear about anonymous apps like Whisper and YikYak have one main question: why? Question and answer site Ask.fm’s recent study asked them, and found that 40% of 13-18-year-olds said anonymity online allows them to talk about difficult topics—only 4% said they would talk about the same things if their name was being used. (IBT)

New parents will do just about anything to get their kid(s) to go to sleep, as one self-published book is proving. The picture book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep made the Amazon bestseller list by claiming to put children straight to sleep. Sales skyrocketed quickly, going from selling just 324 copies on August 16th, to 29,000 at the end of last week. It’s rumored that Random House has bought the rights to the miracle book. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Restoration Hardware is going after the teens “who ha[ve] everything.” Their new high-end post-childhood line RH Teen includes chandeliers, and fine art photography, and the brand hopes to capture young consumers as they are finding their own identity and becoming independent as decorators of their space. Unlike some brands, who are co-creating their products and marketing with young consumers, Restoration chose to launch RH Teen without focus groups or studies. (WSJ)

According to Pew, a third of Millennials frequently use their phones in public for “no particular reason,” and 13% say they frequently use their mobile devices to avoid interacting with other people. (Queue the “anti-social Millennial” pieces.) But another study might shed some more light on their “for no reason” phone use: 60% believe their smartphones enhances their leisure time. The research hypothesizes that young consumers are using phones for moments of “micro-leisure” throughout the day. (Washington PostSocialTimes)

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