How the kings of hip-hop found a new home on Instagram Live (posted 2020) (2023)

How the kings of hip-hop found a new home on Instagram Live (posted 2020) (1)

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The pandemic has disrupted in-person gatherings, but a new generation of social media partying has been born, with rap stars at the forefront. Javier Jaen

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If March 11th, the date on whichThe NBA suspended its seasonjannounced Tom Hankshad contracted the coronavirus when it became clear that the pandemic would indiscriminately destroy industries and dismantle social norms, the new normal began to take shape just over a week later, on March 21.

[Keep reading:Jeezy and Gucci Mane feud on Verzuz.]

The fifth consecutive nightD-Nice sent a D.J. Foundon Instagram Live from her Los Angeles apartment. Things started small one Tuesday, when he played songs from his iTunes to a few hundred friends. But America was changing fast. California entered on Thursdaystay at home order🇧🇷 New York followed the next day. This weekend, most of the entertainment industry pulled out for the first time, and the extent of what could be lost in the coronavirus crisis was becoming clear.

And there was D-Nice: a cool, charming, well-dressed rapper turned DJ. Highly regarded. at prominent events. He had a big Rolodex and a welcoming face, and he created unassailable records — classic soul, golden age hip-hop — while closely watching his comments to see who showed up.

Several celebrities, including Drake, have hadappearedfor a while on Friday night, and D-Nice, 49, was starting to understand the potential reach of what she was doing. He evangelized his friends for the platform and "tried to explain to them what IG Live was, that there was something magical about it," he said in an interview.

His diligence paid off for several hours that Saturday night. The names were impressive: Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama. D-Nice called people out discreetly and welcomed them to #ClubQuarantine. Celebrities chatted in the comments, the only way to get noticed. Sometimes over 100,000 people watched at the same time.

Concerts are cancelled. nightclubs closed. Closed stores. People miss restaurants, bookstores, beaches or cinemas, but what they really miss is the opportunity to get to know them. Add to that the comfort of memory - few things are more relaxing than listening to music that recalls a quieter era - and it's clear why D-Nice's party has become such a safe haven. Communion plus nostalgia immediately became the building blocks of reason in the Corona era.


How the kings of hip-hop found a new home on Instagram Live (posted 2020) (2)
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What happened over the next few weeks was a total reshuffling of the nature of celebrity. Without the usual amplification and distribution systems, they are the tools of glory.Change—Benevolent magnanimity is out, relationship is in; Polishing is out, transparency is in.

Unsurprisingly, hip-hop led the way. Over the past six weeks, no subset of popular culture has evolved faster or more radically. Almost all of these innovations came from Instagram, most notably the live feature (which triggers a live stream with a single tap), which quickly became the ultimate means of quarantine: Views on the platform increased by 70% between February and March. according to Instagram. Now every night offers a wealth of possibilities: rappers, producers, DJs and entrepreneurs have turned this space into a nightclub, marathon, variety show, history lesson, talent show and much more.

D-Nice's Saturday night trailer was a philosophical breakthrough in understanding how people can come together without leaving their homes. It was also a proof of concept. Two staples from the quarantine period were released the following week:delay, a series that pits the titans of hip-hop and R&B against each other, named after a showdown between its founders Swizz Beatz and Timbaland; and rapper/singer Tory Lanez's variety show Quarantine Radio, a mix of superstar interviews, booze-fueled comedy and the occasional steamy Instagram content. Over the next few weeks, this turned into dates at a time when people were really losing track of time. Big independent events soon followed as well, such as Diddy's Dance-a-Thon fundraiser.

“Hip-hop as a genre is willing to take risks,” says Fadia Kader, Instagram's manager of music partnerships. “It is the influencer who influences the influencers”.

Social media is as powerful a tool as any keyboard or drum machine, and it takes just as much study. There are rules and best practices. And current circumstances have rewarded those who use it flexibly and fluently with attention, followers and perhaps new sources of income in the future.

New Instagram Live stars weren't fans of the medium before the pandemic. Previously, Timbaland, 48, approached Instagram as a consumer rather than a creator: "I felt like you had to be there, but it wasn't like a 20-year-old or 25-year-old just being there the whole time," he said. him in an interview. The ability to go live, Diddy said, "wasn't a feature I really used a lot."

Kader said, "All discovered OGs live in real-time."

One of the people who tuned in to D-Nice on that pivotal Saturday was Lanez. A funky hip-hop character with a handful of hits, she was nudged by her publicist to check out the promotion and announce her presence. "It made me realize that people are really at home," he said. "People who are real artists will now shine."

A few days later, he put that theory to the test and started broadcasting live from his home in Miami: playing pop songs, cracking jokes, taking calls from celebrities like Justin Bieber. He dubbed it Quarantine Radio, and over the next few weeks saw the biggest visibility boost of Lanez's career, garnering over three million Instagram followers since the first episode.


Lanez, 27, said the spontaneity of the format forced him out of a bubble created early in his career. "I had a very difficult upbringing, my mother died when I was 11 years old. "You are not my mother! You can't tell me what to do!': That mentality stuck with me,” he said, taking on a confrontational tone and tough exterior. At Radio Quarantine, all that disappeared, he joked, behaved well with his companions, he was a bon vivant and a villain.

Letting his guard down has made him more visible and relatable than any song he's ever released. "I was really bummed out," he said of his previous celebrity-heavy-posing approach. "I'm glad there was this time for self-reflection."

This celebrity expatriation, the discovery of something long hidden behind the facade, has been a hallmark of recent weeks. (And vice versa: Many turned out to be factscompletely made of ink.) There, in the comments section of D-Nice, the celebrities, released from their usual obligations, greeted each other with joy and relief. And it was there on the coursedelaySeries: Less battles in the traditional sense than choreographed chest puffs combined with respectful bows.

"I love seeing these big boys get their flowers," said Swizz, 41. "It's an educational celebration." (After an icy tussle between The-Dream and Sean Garrett, they decided to focus on battles for mutual recognition.) That mood of warm nostalgia goes hand in hand with D-Nice's chorus whenever a beloved celebrity pops up on her feed : "We love you."

Verzuz grew out of an old idea that Swizz and Timbaland wanted to develop and possibly do a tour they had done before.Summer Jam the Hot 97 e 2018🇧🇷 Now, it has become perhaps the most powerful franchise in quarantine-friendly entertainment, a commitment that focuses on yesterday and uses modern technology to influence tomorrow's music production.

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"I get calls from J. Cole, Travis Scott, Kendrick, all these guys are on Verzuz, they're learning," Swizz said. "We're going to see an increase in music that has these influences."

A tangential delight in Verzuz's rise was how artists who still wanted to participate were encouraged to place themselves below their peers, to seriously assess their own creative merits and notoriety.2 twoHe went through a few potential opponents and chose Meek Mill, who respectfully declined the challenge. French Montana took on Lanez in one of the first Verzuz fights, but he really turned heads when asked in an interview who could be a better partner, said Kendrick Lamar. The internet, as usual, spontaneously caught fire. Young Thug started shooting at him, but French held back.fallenin capital letters: "It's not my fault that I believe in myself."

Each battle had its own tenor.RZA and DJ Premierwarmly shared stories about 1990s hip-hop; Teddy Riley and Babyface got off to a technologically awkward start and their match had to be postponed. The resulting affair attracted so many viewers, over 400,000 at once, that Instagram collapsed under the weight. In each fight, the celebrity commentary was vocal and often hilarious, creating a leveling effect between the stars and spectators.

The low-tech privacy of the comments section "brought us back to chat rooms," Kader said.

Something similar happened during the all-day dance marathon organized by Diddy, 50, inspired by the Jerry Lewis marathons he watched as a child and also a fight for children's health. "When I was 8 years old, I was in the hospital for about three months with very severe pneumonia," he said. “Healthcare workers have become my family.” That memory led her to prioritize them in her fundraising efforts: Dance-a-Thon raised an estimated $4 million for Direct Relief.

The live stream was memorable for several reasons: a bonding session with Drake, a raunchy Lizzo, Diddy's reunion with his ex Jennifer Lopez and fiancé Alex Rodriguez. But the most shocking moment was a conversation with 2 Chainz, in which the two discussed the disproportionate impact of the virus on the black community. "It's important that people see it," Diddy said. "People who have intention and purpose behind their actions."

Prom came about a month after social distancing began, as Instagram events began to shift from impromptu to more structured, and in some cases, corporate and philanthropic partnerships.

From the moment D.J. D-Nice's nights started to take off, brands started offering him promotional opportunities, but in the first three weeks, he said, he turned them all down. "It didn't feel right to me. It would have been her thing, it's my thing," he explained. Once he finally found his groove, and indeed the DJ Post quarantine, he started working with clients, selling club quarantine merchandise and focusing on raising money for historic black colleges and universities. or promote voter registration.

"I understand why my IG Live has become a place: a place of comfort," he said. "Respect the audience."

It can also be a place of discovery. Caroline Diaz, vice president of A&R at Interscope, began inviting independent artists to her live streams and hosting a talent show for rappers and singers.

"I was sitting at home thinking about how I can bring my talent and add value to someone else during these difficult times," she said. In recent weeks, he has held informal competitions and sent money to winners through the Cash App. Participants were encouraged by well-known rappers like Meek Mill and DaBaby.

Diaz also helped raise awareness among hip-hop stars of one of the quarantine event series: the private event.devil's hourStriptease clubs, nightlife for well-connected people. Instagram plays wild with these dishonest events, highlighting the tensions between how the platform should be used, how it prefers not to be used, and how it cannot be used. In recent weeks, these boundaries have sometimes blurred.

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Typically, Instagram live streams last for an hour and then need to be restarted, which is inconvenient for DJs. (The Verzuz Battles seem to have avoided that fate.) "IG Live wasn't built for what we use it to be," D-Nice said.


Instagram Live is also an area of ​​obscure performance rights and music releases. (Nobody involved in the big events in recent weeks has noticed copyright issues, but other DJs have.she complainedtheir flows being silenced or interrupted, presumably due to injury).

And then there was the pressure on Instagram's technology, which caused a host of problems. "We're seeing a lot more usage than usual," Kader said. "I tell artists, 'They don't come to IG for this high production value experience, they come for the direct connection with their fan base.'

We are currently in this confusing time between solid normals: what is happening now is the emergence of unexpected foci; What will follow is the rationalization and commercialization of these innovations. What form future iterations of the reunion might take is a mystery, and Instagram may or may not be a part of it.

"I always said it would be cool to be in the club, but not in the club," said Timbaland, pointing to virtual reality as a possible next step. Alternative meetings are also taking place on a large scale: on April 23, Travis Scott attracted more than 12 million people to a Fortnite multiplayer video game.

Unsurprisingly, other platforms, both linear and phone-based, are looking for ways to bundle some of this spontaneous energy into a more consistent and reliable package. “These networks compete with anyone who has an Instagram account,” Diddy said. D-Nice hosted a one-off return of the Club MTV franchise. Lanez said he had preliminary interest from MTV and VH1 in the possibility of his own half-hour show.

Swizz and Timbaland feared continuing to manage Verzuz through Instagram. "Instagram is great for starting something," Timbaland said. "But at some point you have to do better: better sound, better pictures."

Swizz's agreed production values ​​are paramount: "It's our job to run with the best technology, period," he said. "It's not about us. It's about artists being comfortable with the quality being presented to them." (At the end of the fight between Teddy Riley and Babyface, Riley got a call from Dr. Dre saying, "I don't know if I'm interested.")

But once people are free to leave their homes and unplug their phones, some of those lessons will likely be overcome and no doubt some careers will change.

"I'm so much taller than D.J. now. than I've ever been as a rap artist," said D-Nice. But when he returns to the real world, he wants to avoid the kind of nightclubs he used to DJ at. In those spaces, "club owners are in the booth like, 'You've got to make it younger,'" he said. “But playing music from the heart is for me. Now I see myself playing at family events around the world.”

The end of the quarantine will mean the end of Radio en Cuarentena, Lanez said. But what he's learned in recent weeks will survive the return to normal: "I will continue to ensure that this personality never hides or isolates itself again."


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What are two things that make hip-hop unique? ›

They include: DJing—the artistic handling of beats and music. MCing, aka rapping—putting spoken-word poetry to a beat. Breaking—Hip Hop's dance form.

Who is the father of hip-hop? ›

The location of that birthplace was 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, and the man who presided over that historic party was the birthday girl's brother, Clive Campbell—better known to history as DJ Kool Herc, founding father of hip hop.

How did hip-hop spread? ›

Not long after its birth in the 70s, hip-hop spread like wildfire across the United States and around the world, with imitation and replication as a central facilitator of this dispersal and cross-pollination of musical and lyrical styles.

Who is the father of modern rapping? ›

When we think about who invented rap music, DJ Kool Herc is the first name that comes to mind. Rap as we know it first came into being in 1973, in the Bronx, New York. DJ Kool Herc, the founding father of hip-hop, used to host events such as school parties.

What are the 4 pillars of hip-hop? ›

While there is some debate over the number of elements of hip-hop, there are four elements that are considered to be its pillars: deejaying, or “turntabling”; rapping, also known as “MCing” (emceeing) or “rhyming”; graffiti painting, also known as “graf” or “writing”; and break dancing, or “B-boying,” which encompasses ...

What are the 7 elements of hip-hop? ›

When the style of hip hop was first created, it had six foundational elements: DJing (aural), MCing (oral), Beatboxing (vocal), Breakdancing (physical), Graffiti (visual), and Fashion. Today's true hip hop legends continue to create using some or all these foundations.

Who is the original king of hip-hop? ›

Born Kurtis Walker in 1959, Blow, who turns 60 on Aug. 9, was the first rapper to sign with a major label and the first to become a mainstream star. Signing with Mercury Records in 1979, Blow was managed by an up-and-coming Russell Simmons and had instrumentalists Orange Krush playing on his tracks.

Who started rap? ›

The major pioneers of rapping were Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, and the Cold Crush Brothers, whose Grandmaster Caz is controversially considered by some to be the true author of some of the strongest lyrics in “Rapper's Delight.” These early MCs and deejays constituted rap's old school.

What makes hip-hop dancing unique? ›

It's fun, funky and fast paced – you won't even realise how much effort you're putting in, the beat just keeps you moving. Hip hop dance moves are fast and explosive to match the tempo of the music. It's a high intensity workout that will boost your strength and stamina.

What is unique about hiphop? ›

Rap is one of the most distinctive features of hip-hop. Rappers use rhythm, lyrics, and vocal tone to express themselves. The best rappers are distinguished by their “flow” – the way the words run together without the performer getting tongue-tied.

What makes hip-hop beats unique? ›

To create a unique sound, hip hop producers often change the tuning of a sample, making it sound higher or lower in pitch than the original. “They'll detune and slow down a sample to a point where it's unrecognizable,” says Juice.

What are the unique elements of hip-hop? ›

The Five Elements of Hip-Hop: emceeing, deejaying, breakin', graff and beatboxing.


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