Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from Volume 2 Episode 5 of “Patriot Act.”
This week on Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj discussed a topic a little lighter than those in the past couple of episodes: hip hop music. Hip hop music originated in the Bronx and grew into a worldwide music sensation. “This small thing that started in the Bronx has touched every corner of the world… it even reached the Upper East Side,” Minhaj jokes. “…hip hop had to go all the way around the world and get repackaged as a history lesson by a theater nerd just so it could be accepted!” he adds, making a reference to the incredibly popular Broadway production Hamilton. Rap, a sub-genre of hip hop, has taken over rock as the most listened to genre of music- and it’s because of streaming. Streaming was dead until Spotify and Apple Music were popularized, and surprisingly, Soundcloud helped too. Of the three people who received over one billion streams in 2018, two of them were rappers who started on Soundcloud. Even though this free streaming service makes basically no money, it’s still incredibly impactful. “Gucci Gang” was initially successful under this platform and it earned Lil Pump an $8 million record deal. “He embodies the Soundcloud rapper starter kit- face tats, colorful dreads, and rainbow grills,” Minhaj states while showing pictures of other Soundcloud rappers- Trippie Redo, Lil Yachty, and of course, Post Malone, who’s duplicate temporary face tats you can actually order on Amazon. “He looks like the guy who’s dating your drug dealer’s mom,” Minhaj points out about Malone, “…and Lil Xan looks like the guy who’s dating your drug dealer’s daughter.” Minhaj doesn’t get today’s rap and even showed how American rap legend Snoop Dogg doesn’t either, in a clip where he states “everyone’s tryna rap the same style”. Minhaj quickly responds “Yeah Martha Stewart’s best friend is right!”
Minhaj pokes fun at a lot of rap artists, but he brings up a more serious topic when he informs viewers about rap and its relationship with streaming and money. The length of the songs affects how many times it gets streamed and how much money it makes on each music streaming platform. Lil Yachty’s album has 17 tracks, and half of them are under three minutes. Minhaj surmises that streaming is back from the dead and it’s giving rappers a wider audience and allowing them to make more money from their music.
We may have never experienced "Gucci Gang" without streaming. pic.twitter.com/8aZfn4mqZR
— Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (@patriotact) March 10, 2019
Minhaj brings up another interesting aspect of rap in this episode. Although hip hop did spread to every part of the globe, in different countries, rap is looked at from different angles. China uses rap to remind its citizens to respect the government, and some songs include General Secretary Xi Jinping’s voice stating in the rap that corrupt people would be punished. The president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, even made a rap in 2018 in which he sings about the beauty he sees in his country. Putin decided all rap in Russia must be controlled. However, in some countries- including Turkey, Malaysia, and Spain- it’s banned, which artists claim is a restriction on freedom of expression. Rappers have been arrested for using their lyrics to speak out against repressive regimes, and in Spain, a simple tweet against the government could land a citizen in jail, according to a vague law called Article 578. In America, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Ice T have criticized the American government in their videos, which has become an especially prominent way of speaking against the actions of President Trump. The government of Thailand went a step further than Spain by deciding that rap would be banned simply because it’s a way to express opinions on the country and its history, which is an aspect they don’t want their citizens being completely aware of.
I love this show because it breaks down interesting subjects and provides detailed information in a hilarious manner — the audience could even be seen holding their stomachs from laughing so hard. Minhaj is talented and makes the show relatable to a wide variety of audiences. I thought Minhaj’s performance this week was pristine. Give yourself a chance to laugh and watch Patriot Act on Netflix or Youtube.
New episodes of Patriot Act are released every Sunday.
Featured image Via Youtube