Hip-hop is as crowded as ever, though it doesn’t always seem that way scrolling through the Billboard charts and radio playlists. Hip-hop traditionalists constantly bemoan a perceived dearth of lyricism. There’s always one card that stops a ten minute tangent about Lil Pump in its tracks, however: The truth that there’s good music everywhere, if you dig deep enough. Come December 14 though, a lot of that good music could become permanently submerged.
On that day the FCC will take a vote to potentially repeal Net Neutrality. In plain terms, Net Neutrality keeps the internet an even playing field. If it’s repealed, which seems likely at this point, internet providers would have the federally-imposed liberty to slow down or outright block certain websites and apps. They could even charge users for access to certain sites in a manner similar to cable packages. In an era when the President is on a personal tirade against media outlets and independent outlets like LA Weekly are being purchased by greedy conservatives for nefarious reasons, an untarnished flow of information is vital to keep America from spiraling down a dystopian rabbit hole.
A lack of Net Neutrality could have far-reaching implications for our wired world, specifically a hip-hop industry that lives on the internet. Your favorite artist used the internet to grow their fanbase and/or get seen by the right A&R. You likely get all your hip-hop news from outlets like Uproxx. The night Kanye finally drops his next project, you know Twitter will be lit — or it could be a ghost town.
Without Net Neutrality, the internet would quickly become like every other institution in this country: Politicized. More than half of Americans live at or below the poverty line. A large chunk of that figure is comprised of the teenagers and young adults who are the pulse of our culture. We all love Twitter (at least sometimes) but if media conglomerates like Verizon and Comcast begin charging extra for social media, the reality is many struggling college students and young professionals may have to ask themselves: You got Twitter money?
A mass exodus of social media users would strike a critical blow to vital direct-to-consumer avenues for musicians, artists and other content creators. Youtube has already implemented rules which sap how much money a content creator could make from their craft. Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr, which Frank Ocean and A$AP Yams among others used to grow their movements, has changed the service for the worse. Many people already aren’t feeling Twitter for picking and choosing which tweets count as harassment. Putting a paywall in front of the already shaky ground is a death knell.