What are hip hop hype artists

Why hip hop is so big today and what the marketing industry can learn from rap

Hip Hop is bigger than ever and rap not only dominates the charts, but also almost all digital platforms with record reach - be it Youtube, Instagram or Spotify. While art and culture are becoming more firmly entrenched in the middle of society, more and more brands also want a piece of the attention cake. In the current OMR podcast, hip-hop journalist Niko Backspin explains why this doesn't always work well, how much of the self-portrayal of artists is planned marketing and how the sustained rap growth in recent years has even come about.

“Perhaps the share of marketing in rap is already two thirds today. And I just don't want to admit it, ”says Niko Backspin in an interview with Philipp Westermeyer. The hip-hop journalist, whose real name is Niko Hüls, has been observing the industry full-time for 20 years. In 2009 he took over the "Backspin" magazine, which was founded in 1994, and has been working on new digital formats for the brand ever since the print magazine was discontinued. "Fortunately, there are a lot of artists for whom this is not the case," says Niko about the marketing component. "And a Capital Bra, who is currently the greatest and most successful rapper, is still hip-hop through and through."

This dichotomy between “being hip hop through and through” and still dominating the charts and concluding deals with big brands (Capital Bra has more number 1 singles than the Beatles and its own pizza brand at 25) did not exist for a long time. Success in the mainstream was synonymous with sell-out - and accordingly bad for the artists. "Jan Delay grew up at a time when advertising contracts would have shattered his brand," says Niko Backspin. “Today the artists have a different pain threshold and many fans don't really care.” And of course the enormous size of the genre today is also a decisive factor. “The volume of hip-hop fans has increased tremendously. Today there are far more consumer fans than real hip-hop heads, ”said Hüls.

When Berlin took the title of hip-hop capital from Hamburg

According to Niko Backspin, a turning point in the perception of rap in Germany was the success of street rap from Berlin. “Artists like Samy Deluxe or Jan Delay became artists because they wanted to be artists. They weren't interested in the image, ”explains Niko Backspin. “At the beginning of the 2000s, the Aggro Berlin label led to this image component becoming much larger. And that has increased exponentially. "

That is also one of the reasons why hip hop has become so huge. “I think you can break that down to one word: authenticity,” says Niko Backspin. “The fact that the 187 Strassenbande and Capital Bra are so successful today is because consumers believe 100 percent that the boys are as they appear.” The fascination with a strange world is also an important factor. "It's like an action movie that you want to see."

How rap plays the platform game - and wins

Despite all the hip hop hype, Niko Backspin does not only make positive developments, such as the glorification and display of closeness to criminal milieus. Only two examples from the recent past are international 6ix9ine and national Bushido. And there is something else that has struck him as a hip-hop head for a long time: “Even if you run the risk of sounding old with the phrase: Music has become more of a product,” he says.

“It is of course a problem for music and art that many artists make sure that a song is only 2:50 minutes long.” Niko Backspin lists other attributes that help songs get into the big and influential playlists to be heaved onto Spotify: Start directly with the hook, at most two verses, often no bridge. "The playlists are so strong that you are actually directly chart-relevant when you are listed."

Why Niko Backspin still sees a lot of art that claims to survive even short-term trends, what role Tiktok plays in hip hop today and what ultimately matters when brands work with rappers, you will hear in the current episode of the OMR podcast.

Our podcast partners at a glance:

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Philipp already mentioned it at the beginning of the podcast: Not only was Niko a guest, but Philipp was also a guest at Niko. In the “What is rap for you” format, Niko regularly meets people who at first glance have nothing to do with rap. Guests were, among others, Felix Lobrecht, Sibylle Berg, Lars Klingbeil and now also Philipp Westermeyer. You can listen to these and all other episodes here.

All topics of the OMR podcast with Niko Backspin at a glance:

  • Niko Backspin explains what the backspin actually is and why he has fulfilled a childhood dream with his job (from 03:30)
  • Self-marketing, storytelling, collaborations: the overlap of rap and marketing (from 06:10)
  • When does the collaboration between rappers and brands work particularly well? And why is Capital Bra so successful in this area too? (from 08:00)
  • McDonald’s first approaches to hip hop, including with Cro, tended to harm the artist. Why are collaborations much more accepted today? (from 09:45)
  • Niko Backspin recognizes the success of influencer marketing as one of the reasons for the acceptance of advertising deals in hip hop (from 12:00)
  • What happens when rappers realize the power of their own brand and instead of cooperating with third parties build up their own brands for e.g. merchandise (from 1:45 p.m.)
  • The story of Lacoste and the 187 street gang (from 3:45 p.m.)
  • How Shindy once built up such a hype around an orange XXL sweater that similar models were completely sold out on Amazon (from 5:00 p.m.)
  • Via Instagram, rappers have long been able to generate extreme demand for products very quickly. Now some have also recognized Tiktok for themselves (from 8:00 p.m.)
  • What influence does Spotify have on rap with its playlists? (from 23:30)
  • Why is the output of current rappers often significantly higher than a few years ago? (from 25:50)
  • What role does Youtube play for hip hop today? (from 30:15)
  • Hip Hop has felt all other genres behind in the past few years. Why is that? (from 32:15)
  • About the success and career of and allegations of fraud to Loredana (from 34:30)
  • The huge success of Hip Hop is strongly related to the culture and its core: giving a fringe group a voice (from 35:30)
  • Rap and conspiracy theories (from 42:00)
  • Through targeted provocations, public disputes and playing with the media (from 44:30)
  • The case of the US rapper 6ix9ine as a prime example of how rap works (from 46:00)
  • Is the story of Busidho and the Abou Chaker Clan an isolated case or is it commonplace in German street rap? (from 49:00)
  • What effects does Corona have on rap? (from 50:30)
  • What role does Twitch play now? (from 52:45)
  • What did Niko Backspin think with the first releases of Apache 207? And which next big act is already in the starting blocks? (from 59:15)