Dr. Joe Seabrooks presents ‘Hip Hop’s Effect on Consumer Trends’

Samuel Towns

On Thursday, Jan. 3, UMKC alumnus Dr. Joe Seabrooks presented a slideshow titled “Hip-Hop’s Effect on Consumer Trends” to a handful of students in the Student Union.

The bulk of the talk targeted African-Americans.

Throughout his presentation, Seabrooks played excerpts from popular Hip-Hop songs. After each came a slide with the song’s lyrics typed on it.

Seabrooks dissected each song’s message, and stated his opinions of the musician’s artistic intentions.

Many of the songs featured endorsements for products.

Seagram’s Gin made an appearance in Snoop Dogg’s hit track “Gin and Juice,” and Run DMC had a popular song about Adidas shoes.

Lyrics to that song went “Now the Adidas I possess for one man is rare/myself homeboy got 50 pair.”

Seabrooks joked about how nobody in their right mind would want to own 50 pairs of shoes.

Each song was presented chronologically by date and as they became more and more recent, students began singing along.

One song in particular struck a chord with the group.

That song, titled “Still Fly,” by Big Tymers, speaks of a particularly “fly” individual who has no job and can’t pay his rent.

His unimpressive life choices are entirely negligible, though, when one takes into consideration how he’s entirely “too fly.”

Seabrooks then stated the obvious by informing the group how values reflected in Big Tymers’ song are not necessarily values one would strive to possess.

Seabrooks repeatedly stressed, though, that his issue is not with hip-hop itself, but with the shallowness behind much of its music.

After the students had a chance to listen to some hip-hop tracks, Seabrooks quoted part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech.

In it, King spoke about what could be accomplished if black people were to pool their resources, thereby leveling the playing field with the white population.

“Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal,” King said.

According to Seabrooks, if all the black people decided to boycott certain products, America’s economy would suffer, because African-Americans make up a sizable chunk of America’s buying power.

That suffering would prompt the rest of America to take notice of the African-American population and would garner a newfound respect for them as people.

Seabrooks then related the King excerpt to his presentation by linking it to the issue of product placement in hip-hop.

Hip-hop songs serve to feed African-American trends and those trends lead to a great expenditure by the black population.

Seabrooks said this is basically the opposite of what King suggested in his speech.

As the presentation came to a close, Seabrooks played a hilarious, but strikingly pertinent, skit from comedian Dave Chappelle.

In it, all the African-Americans were paid reparations from when they were enslaved. But with that money, African-Americans spent it on the things hip-hop songs promote.

Seabrooks admitted to the satirical appeal of the skit but said that it was also not far from reality.

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