There is a kind of music, which is commonly referred to as “Pop” music. It attracts a variety of Americans of very different geographical, racial, and economical backgrounds. Some of the most popular artists these days that are considered “Pop” are N’Sync, Britney Spears (who, having recently turned eighteen, doesn’t seem to mind letting the guys know that she’s legal now), Cristina Aguilera, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, and Tupac Shakur. It would take a thousand pages to describe the entire commercial and cultural aspects of the music industry, so I will talk about the hip-hop community. Some hip-hop is commonly referred to as “Pop” music, simply because it is popular with a wide variety of crowds. I intend to show you how the different types of crowds under the Pop category interact with one another, especially at popular awards ceremonies, such as the recent MTV Video Music Awards ’00.
MTV’s largest show and party of every year is their Video Music Awards, celebrated in 1999 on 9/9/99. In 2000, it was highlighted by performances by Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers), N’Sync, a side of Britney Spears which brought a chuckle from a few early Madonna haters, and others. In an interview with reporters before the show, 26 year-old white rapper Eminem stated “It ain’t often you get so many people that I don’t like into one room together.” Eminem’s relationship with the music industry is a strange one – you either love him or you hate him. He openly hates gays, women, and children. He is being petitioned to be arrested by a national gay rights activist group for his homophobic lyrics and attitude. So, you ask, why is he such a loved character if he is so “shady”? His most recent album, The Marshall Mathers LP, sold 1.7 million copies its first week – the most for any single artist in history. Also notable for comment is that he achieved this at a time when illegal music piracy is so commonly practiced that the government cannot even begin to regulate it. This is another issue however.
The recent media chase over Shawn Fanning, an innocent-looking 19 year-old college dropout, is amazing for one who has not been along for the ride the whole time. Shawn Fanning released Napster in 1999, it was one of the top 10 most quickly downloaded programs of 1999. It’s ability to “share” music files, called mp3s, digitally over the Internet made it become absolutely essential for anyone between the ages of 12-24 to have. Gone were the days when you had to listen to the radio or buy a single – now you could just go online, wait anywhere from two to thirty minutes, and have the song that you wanted, for play on your own computer or to burn to a blank CD. In steps ancient rock legends, Metallica. Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich, took a stand against Napster. He claims that it is violating copyright laws set by the United States. Fanning’s creation, by allowing fans to disperse their music to one another, is equivalent to stealing right from the band. In a sense, he is correct. In reality, if it weren’t for the popularity that the program has already achieved, it would have been shut down long ago without a multi-million dollar court case. Now it becomes just one of the many media-hyped incidents in the music industry.
The pop music industry is a complicated web of underground culture. Because America is such a diverse nation, the music industry reflects the diversity of the country. From white rappers to thirteen year-old black rappers, to seventy year old country singers, there is definitely a type of music that most people enjoy.
Marshall Mathers, spoken in pre-show interview before MTV VMA 2000
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