From runways in Milan to the set of Hip Hop Squares, rap artists continue to permeate the entertainment industry from all sides. Seemingly for many, the staying power of an artist no longer relies solely on their musical creations, but in the evolution of their brand.
As the market has become seemingly over saturated with talent, hip hop artists have begun following in the steps of icons such as Will Smith, LL Cool J, and Jay-Z, and now do more than simply churn out music. Rappers today are as focused on creating a brand for themselves, as they are in dropping a banging LP. Putting their personalities on display has become a fixture in furthering their careers, and it’s become more common to see rappers differentiate themselves from the crowd by promoting through personal fashion and labels, and putting their charisma on display with feature film and television appearances. It’s the foray into non-scripted fan interaction that gives fans a candid look at their favorite artist’s personality.
Artists today have taken their personal
fashion sensibilities to the next level with creating their own lines, and
having what they wear not only be a statement, but by having fashion brands
that work to not only make them money on the front end, but on the back end by
creating a figure the public wants to consume.
One of hip hop, and pop culture’s, most iconic figures was Tupac Shakur, who began transcending his image as a rapper when he made an impact on legendary urban films such as “Juice”, “Above The Rim”, and “Poetic Justice”. Two artist’s following in this fallen soldier’s footsteps are Childish Gambino, who goes by his government name, Donald Glover, when acting, and Chicago native, Common.
Gambino has made the brunt of his acting credits on the small screen; he starred in an indie film “Mystery Team”, appeared in “The Muppets” latest film project and is set to star in the upcoming R-rated comedy “The To Do List”. Glover’s unique brand of comedy is as ostentatious as his style, and truly reflective of his personality. These days Common spends his time as a character on the cable drama “Hell On Wheels”, but it was appearances in “American Gangster” and “Smokin Aces” that garnered attention from fans. This Windy City legend has carved out a niche as a smooth-talking individual in most acting roles he lands.
Fans need not look much further than their Twitter accounts to get a taste of their favorite artist’s true feelings on a topic. For instance, Rostrum Records rapper, Mac Miller exposes himself as a personality to his over one million Twitter followers. He’s not alone, as it is commonplace for talented lyricists to engage with their fans on social media platforms. The filter between performer and fan is becoming thinner all the time.
While artists have made a name for themselves by appearing on scripted television, where their personas are clearly evident, its unscripted programming that gives a glimpse into a rapper’s personality. A show such as Hip Hop Squares offers a chance to see a hip hop artist mingling, letting loose, and basically partying while taking part. Fans can see usually reserved rappers like Ghostface Killah and Fat Joe, give their unfiltered thoughts on various topics, and just be themselves. You can see rapper turned stand-up comic, Childish Gambino slay with his wit, and see the always overly energetic, Machine Gun Kelly get wild in his square - all for the viewer’s consumption.
Seeing well known rappers express themselves outside of their lyrical craft, by making a statement through fashion, or being a character on film and television that draws from their own personality, is exciting for a fan. Nothing can replace seeing an artist you follow relaxed, surrounded by peers, and interacting with fans with off-the-cuff responses.
To get a taste of a performer’s true “brand”, and personality, check them out on the hilarious unscripted show; Hip Hop Squares which kicks off its Second Season Tuesday, October 23 at 11:00pm (EST). These first two episodes feature Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, Ghostface Killah, Tech N9ne, MGK, Mac Miller, Common, Childish Gambino, and a slew of talented comedians and performers such as Donnell Rawlings, and Kat Graham.