Steve Yates at Prospect Magazine discusses that “the story of hip hop’s journey into the cultural mainstream is the story of its love affair with materialism, or, more accurately, capitalism. Its lead exponents, like Jay-Z and Kanye West, are brilliant entrepreneurs with vast fortunes.
…Hip hop’s rise has been, at root, a straightforward process of free-market enterprise: an excellent product has been pushed with great skill and new markets opened up with real dynamism and flair.
…The view of hip hop as a genre concerned only with the basest forms of materialism is a serious oversimplification. It misunderstands the way that rap’s relationship with capitalism has fed its creativity and led to both its commercial and artistic success.
…NWA embraced the American dream with relish. They set down the unapologetic “money-is-all” credo of the low-level street hustler, in which drug dealing, guns and the police swirl about in a ferocious urban storm. Like other popular representations of American gangsterism—The Godfather, Scarface—it was a vision of unfettered free market enterprise.
…So while hip hop started off as an underground, and often political movement, it has for many years pursued an increasingly intimate relationship with business. Hip hop now has a materialist, acquisitive streak hard-wired into its identity. It is this embrace of capitalism that has taken hip hop from outsider status right to America’s core.”