Is Hip Hop Taken Seriously by the Indie Alternative Crowd?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 18:36 Written by  Aspyn Jones

In the music world, Pop can mix with Rock. They call it Pop-Rock. Electronica can have a baby with folk music. They call it folktronica. Even country music can get in the mix on miscegenation, teaming up with alternative. They call it Alt-Country. But, then you have Hip Hop.

Hip Hop is one of the musical genres that some audiophiles have a hard time accepting. It went through its fair share of debate that it wasn’t a real art form, and although Hip Hop went through its conscious phase in the 90s, the debate still rages on.

This is one of the reasons why Hip Hop is sometimes unaccepted by Alternative and Indie audiences. Case in point? 2008’s Glastonbury Festival, which takes place in London, booking headliner Jay-Z. This didn’t exactly rub Noel Gallagher, one half of rock group Oasis, the right way. “I’m not having Hip Hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong,” Gallagher stated, according to NME.

However, Noel Gallagher’s rage could be described as miniscule compared to the legion of fans who embraced Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

It recently received a Hip Hop facelift via mash-up artist Psychosis. Neutral Milk Hotel became Neutral Bling Hotel, and the album title changed to In My G4 Over Da Sea. Even the album cover reflects this change. The woman in the original album cover sports a rim, has her cleavage showing, and the little boy dons shuttered glasses a la Kanye West.

The mash-up album contains re-mixes with appearances from artists such as Kanye West—“King of Jesus Walks”—Chris Brown, “Look At the Two-Headed Boy”—and Pitbull—“Miami 1981.”

“The music world has not universally embraced Neutral Bling Hotel,” David Shapiro, writer at the Fuse.TV website wrote. He also reported some calling it racist, and a Tumblr user’s description of the album as “f—king degrading.”

Other artists have shared similar experiences.

In 2004, rapper Jay-Z and alternative band Linkin Park collaborated for Collision Course, mashing together some of the artists’ notable hits. It was met with mixed reviews. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Raymond Fiore described it as a “forgettable effort.”

Not all indie/alternative and hip hop collaborations were met with the same response, however.

On Kanye West’s 2010 release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, folk crooner Justin Vernon of Bon Iver joined Kanye West on not one, but two songs. “Monster,” in which he was amongst Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z as collaborators, and “Lost in the World,” which also featured the late Gil-Scott Heron. The latter received mainly positive attention.

Kid Cudi teamed up with Ratatat and MGMT for “Pursuit of Happiness,” one of the singles from his successful 2009 debut, Man on the Moon.

A 2011 article in the Denver Westword Blog suggested that indie is actually taking cues from Hip Hop when it comes to collaborations, with “its methods trickling backwards into other traditions.” Such occasions include Jack White and Loretta Lynn, Santigold and Karen O, and recently, Gorillaz, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, and Andre 3000.

In other words, both art forms tend to emulate each other.

Though there might be a bit of tension between the two worlds at time, fans know when the end result is ghastly or golden. For every In My G4 Over Da Sea, there is also a Kanye/Bon Iver team-up waiting to grace fans’ ears.

Aspyn Jones

Aspyn Jones

Aspyn Jones is a new GMO staff writer. She can be contacted at