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The ever-changing dynamic of the Hip Hop audience

By Avery Jordan | 4/17/2014, midnight
ScHoolboy Q By Avery Jordan

Hip hop has come a long way since its inception in the early 1980s. Originally seen as a primarily Black phenomenon, Hip Hop had a strong influence on the Black culture and it was easy for the Black population to identify with the themes and messages that were presented. Now, however, it appears the Hip Hop audience has evolved, and its reach extends much further than just the Black community, at least here in California. It seems that nowadays there is a very wide variety of Hip Hop fans (Black, White, Latino, and Asian) that appreciate the music and identify with the culture.

On April 1-2, local, up-and-coming Rap artist ScHoolboy Q held a show in Santa Ana at The Observatory as a part of his Oxymoron World Tour to celebrate the recent release of Oxymoron, his third official studio album.

How is ScHoolboy “up-and-coming” if he already has three studio albums? Although many may claim to have been fans of his since his mixtape days, his music is only just now starting to become mainstream, giving him much more attention on a significantly larger scale, because of he exposure provided by radio and music videos.

The show was originally only scheduled for one night, but after it sold out a second show was added and the demand for tickets began to confirm his popularity with the masses.

In addition to ScHoolboy, the show featured performances by Rene Brown, Audio Push, Vince Staples, Isaiah Rashad, and a special surprise appearance from fellow Black Hippy group member Jay Rock.

Naturally, one would expect the composition of the crowd at a Hip Hop show such as this one to be primarily Black; however, crowd composition can vary depending on the location of the venue. Being that the show was in Santa Ana, a primarily Latino area, a majority-mixture of Black and Latino persons would be expected. That was not the case for either show. On both nights, the crowd was primarily White, followed by Latino, then Asian, then Black.

It was actually difficult to find a Black attendee in the crowd unless you really looked. Why? Do Black people really not want to spend their money to see the performance? The tickets were only $30 so that may not be the case. Or maybe White people are really just into Rap music? To make things even more controversial, is it OK for these non-Black fans to recite lyrics containing the infamous “N-word” at the top of their lungs?

After the show, a few attendees took the time to answer a few questions about their experience at the show. Many of the non-Black attendees became somewhat uncomfortable when asked questions about reciting the “N-word” in song lyrics, but said they would never use it out of the context of the song and explicitly ask that they not be quoted or have their names mentioned. One Black attendee however, felt completely free speaking her mind on not just this issue, but the direction of Hip Hop as a whole.