SXSW Music Panel: The Hip-Hop Bubble That Popped Culture

Long ignored, the genre now takes industry to the next level

“I think that the pendulum has swung to the fact there is now an awareness of the value of the black dollar, and I’ve always felt like hip-hop is the musical extension of that,” Rebecca “Dimplez” Ijeoma said during “The Hip-Hop Bubble That Popped Culture” panel inside a packed Austin Convention Center ballroom on Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Jana Birchum

Conversing with Michelle McDevitt, president of Audible Treats; Tariq Cherif, co-founder of the Rolling Loud Festival; and Ghazi Shami, founder of Empire Distribution, Ijeoma didn’t just indulge in conjecture. Her statement bears statistical vindication.

According to Nielsen, hip-hop accounted for 31.2% of American music consumption in 2018. Even so, panelists agreed on a virtually unanimous sentiment: Hip-hop’s influence on pop culture didn’t occur overnight. Mainstream audiences simply dismissed the genre.

“I think people finally realized what we knew our entire lives: Rappers are cool,” Cherif said.

He witnessed the shift in perception firsthand after being mocked for his desire to host festivals devoted solely to rap.

“‘You wanna put a bunch of rappers in one place? That sounds like World War 3,’” recounted the Rolling Loud co-founder of the reaction his idea received to a chorus of laughter.

The quartet onstage provided thoughtful, fair dialogue throughout. Topics such as the use of co-writers in rap brought on civil debates. Shami’s viewpoint on the introduction of new technology proved especially intriguing.

“We’re usually later on adopting technology by the time it trickles down to us,” the Empire founder said. “What we’ve become is the core of the people who actually break the technology. We take it to the next level.”

The Hip-Hop Bubble That Popped Culture

Thursday, March 14, 3:30pm, Austin Convention Center Room 12AB

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The Hip-Hop Bubble That Popped Culture, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, SXSW Music Panel, Rebecca Ijeoma, Michelle McDevitt, Audible Treats, Tariq Cherif, Rolling Loud Festival, Ghazi Shami, Empire Distribution

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