Hip-hop is a style of music that grew in popularity beginning in the late 1970s growing through the 1980s, 90s and on into the 21st-century. The style includes the written word along with a musical background, but it is more comprehensive than just referring to it as “rap music.” Hip-hop includes not only “rapping,” but also deejaying, a specific clothing style, breakdancing, and even graffiti painting. Hip-hop is originally African-American, launching out of the South Bronx area of New York City and is popular in various regions of the world such as Los Angeles and Miami.
To describe mainstream hip-hop is to look at the people who influenced it. They have been people like African Americans Run-D.M.C., LL Cool Jay, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., and the female Lil’ Kim. Whites have also been heavy influencers such as Eminem and a white group known as the Beastie Boys, for examples. Today, the heavy influences are people like Kanye West, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and the female Nicki Minaj. These influencers have a particular style and attitude that people who follow rap put forth in their own lives.
So what is indie hip-hop? This is hip-hop music that is seen as underground, and that is often independently made or not signed to a major record label. Although the style for hip-hop follows some general themes, indie hip-hop often does not adhere to all of the basic rules. Because it is underground, the artists are freer to experiment with the styles and make them more unique and individual. How they influence culture is with their individual tribes as opposed to worldwide influence.
Most indie hip-hop artists celebrate the fact that they have control over their style and image. They do not rely on the major record companies to get the word out, nor are they forced to follow the strict rules of major record companies. They can utilize social media, especially YouTube and musical platforms such as SoundCloud, to promote their work.
If a major label recognizes them, they may decide to join them. But when they do they realize they are trading individuality and control for the money that the major record companies provide.
Some of the indie hip-hop artists include Lord Jamar, Jedi Mind Tricks, The Perceptionists, and more. Despite the fact that they are indie hip-hop artists, some of these artists, such as Jedi Mind Tricks, have sold hundreds of thousands of records.