By Elesha Nicholls (@e_glomez)
The 2000’s ushered in a new age of artists who weren’t scared of taking risks and stepping out of hip-hops comfort zones. You can see this in everything from the fashion, music and collaborations artists curated. The introduction to the digital age of music began in this decade and would see the genre flourish once more. Hip-hop was venturing into pop culture and would be seen and heard on a larger scale thanks to the internet.
When you think about hip-hop in the 2000’s you instantly think of the many anthems and classics the decade gave to us. But you can’t reminisce without thinking of the monumental style options the decade gave us. In the early 2000’s hip-hop became colourful with rappers like Camron making statements in pink clothing. Something rappers from previous decades wouldn’t be caught in. Clothing was extremely street based at the time with baggy jeans and t-shirts, basketball jerseys, fitted caps and fresh kicks being sported. Hip-hop moguls like Russel Simmons and his wife Kimora Lee-Simmons had the streets on smash with their respective brands Phat Farm and Baby Phat that produced street wear for men, women, and children. Jay-Z’s clothing company Roca Wear was also widely popular in the early 2000’s along with Diddy’s Sean John who also produced street wear clothing.
In the mid 2000’s hip-hop would be introduced to a preppy, polo-wearing rapper from Chicago named Kanye West. Kanye wasn’t new to the industry as he was a producer who worked with the likes of Jay-Z and other rappers, but he was new to being in the spotlight. In 2004 he dropped his now cult classic album College Drop Out with hits like Through the Wire and Jesus Walks topping the charts. Kanye made political and pop culture history when he went on live television during a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser announcing: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” This pushed him not only further into the spotlight, but also had everyone on their toes and gripping their seats whenever he had to say anything live.
Since hip-hop’s inception, the south never really got the proper recognition nor props that it was due. In the 2000’s it was still being ridiculed by figures within the culture who deemed it as not being “real hip-hop”. Regardless of what these people thought, the south gave the world endless tracks to get crunk to. One of the south’s specialities during this decade was creating dances to their up-tempo songs, with Lil Jon’s Snap Yo Fingers being probably one of the biggest dancing phenomena to come out of the region. Because of this many people across the world wanted to share their renditions of the dance and started uploading dancing videos to websites available at the time like Myspace, Bebo, and infant YouTube.
Popular music video shows during the 2000’s like BET’S 106&Park had hip-hop fans tuning in from around the world to see what videos would make the countdown. Hip-Hop artists would make appearances, debut new music, and perform. It was also a great way to see new talent with interactive segments on the show like freestyle Friday and wild out Wednesday allowing viewers to get in on the fun, and use their phones and computers to vote on who they thought should win.
Mixtape’s that were once only physical copies in the 80’s and 90’s became widely digital by the end of the 2000’s. Nicki Minaj has to be one of the biggest examples of how an artist pushed their mixtapes on the online platforms that were available at the time, such as Myspace, to reach a bigger audience. From her persistent content that she pushed online she was able to get her big break.
The 2000’s were a time to be alive for the many iconic moments hip-hop gave us. Hip-Hop in the next decade would become almost purely digital and break the internet.