Can Adult Contemporary Radio Figure Out Its Hip-Hop Issue?
July 18, 2019 11:02 AM   Subscribe

 
Years ago, when 50 Cent released “Ayo Technology (feat. Justin Timberlake),” a local pop radio station “solved” this issue by editing out all the 50 Cent verses and just looping the single JT verse for 2 or 3 minutes.

Edit: oh, I see that tactic is what the article is actually about!
posted by mpbx at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


“Knowing our audience and what they don’t like, that’s generally why we’ll look for an edit,” says WHUD-FM program director Steve Petrone of his Hudson Valley, N.Y.-based station.

So the audience is old, conservative white people.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:16 AM on July 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


More Billy Ray Cyrus, in other unomitted words ?
posted by y2karl at 11:18 AM on July 18, 2019


I mean, yeah. If they want to keep airing hiphopless edits, then that's their choice, but at what point do you just start telling the truth and rename the genre "White Contemporary"?
posted by tobascodagama at 11:20 AM on July 18, 2019 [32 favorites]


I found it interesting that they even snipped the extremely brief Sheryl Crow spoken word bit from "All I wanna Do." I
posted by PussKillian at 11:28 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Of course, not every AC station plays the same version of a given song. At No. 13 on this week’s AC chart is “Crave,” a recent Madonna collaboration with Swae Lee, that finds the Rae Sremmurd member crooning alongside the pop superstar. Although Swae Lee is not rapping on “Crave,” a solo Madonna edit has been serviced to AC radio -- a decision loaded with implications related to the format's largely white, middle-aged listener base and the type of artists they want to hear.

My eyes rolled so hard I think I pulled a muscle.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


genre "White Contemporary"
It's what I call it. I've even used the phrase "white people radio popular" to denote those crossover hits.
posted by zabuni at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I found it interesting that they even snipped the extremely brief Sheryl Crow spoken word bit from "All I wanna Do."

In fairness, most radio stations are not, in fact, L.A.
posted by Etrigan at 11:42 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


In fairness, most radio stations are not, in fact, L.A.

Heh! But neither are they discos nor country clubs, in the traditional sense anyway.

Even white dad recitative-free music isn’t safe. I recently heard a short-lived Hot AC station edit the line about playing “Jesus” out of “One” by U2. And one of the oldies classic hits whose Boomer fans are definitely still teenagers stations in my market still has Van Morrison get “overcome thinking about laughing and running, hey hey, behind the stadium.” Terrestrial radio Puritanism would make Elizabeth Proctor cry.
posted by armeowda at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Huh. A station near me has spent several years using the tag line "Without the rap! (echo effect: 'without the rap!') Today's best hits without the rap!" It always struck me as a ridiculous dogwhistle, but I never knew they might mean it so literally.
posted by agentofselection at 12:11 PM on July 18, 2019 [24 favorites]


I’m curious, the article mentions AC stations removing Cardi B from the Maroon 5 single, but did Hip Hop stations play the song at all? Probably not, right? But they would play Post Malone. And an AC station would play Mariah Carey. “Old Town Road” is probably a good example of a crossover in the other direction.

In general I don’t think stations with specific formats are bad, but yeah you can see some pretty glaring issues when it comes to crossovers. Like how in the 90s, alternative stations would play Beastie Boys songs.
posted by mpbx at 12:11 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I can listen to rap when I drive, and I sometimes do, but I can't listen to it as background for doing anything that requires more concrete thinking. I will often skip spoken-word tracks or sections of songs on albums that I like for similar reasons. I can't stop paying attention to the words. I always assumed this was done for that reason, but the more I think about it, this is also why I stopped listening to the radio at all--because they cut in to talk or run ads every few songs. So as soon as I started thinking about it here, it was like wait, no, that would only make sense on paid ad-free services.
posted by Sequence at 12:21 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Me hear nothing but the music, I'm tripping
So fuck hip-hop, I'm easy listening

---

but in all seriousness, I think cLOUDDED might still be the easiest listening hip to hop, alongside maybe Mummy Fortuna's Theater Company
posted by FatherDagon at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


> "...they even snipped the extremely brief Sheryl Crow spoken word bit from 'All I wanna Do.'"

I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? 'Cause she's [REDACTED]
posted by kyrademon at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I worked for a couple "Adult Contemporary" stations when I was fresh out of College Radio a mere 42 years ago, and this kind of thing was going on even then... I used my tape-splicing skills to surgically edit out "too Black", "too Hard Rock" and even "too Country" snippets from some of the biggest hits of the '70s for a Suburban L.A. audience and (more frequently) for a small-market California audience. Whatever had to be edited out, I left behind a faint sound effect of my eyes rolling.

(but I'm also the guy who, while the Seven Dirty Words Broadcast case was working its way to the Supreme Court, made an edit of the original George Carlin monologue substituting specific Hanna-Barbera cartoon SFX for each word... for years after, I tended to exclaim "What the BOINNGG?")
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:13 PM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


This harkens back to when Lena Horne's musical interludes were removed from films before they were shown in the South.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:49 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I heard one of these edits - "Bang, Bang" by Jessi J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. They completely removed Minaj and just played the background music, making it strange because they removed an entire 3rd of the song.

As she is the only woman of color on the tune, the racism around removing rap became obvious.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:05 PM on July 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think I'm squarely in the demographic for this sort of station. White? Yep. Middle aged? 45 is middle aged I think. About half way between alive and dead. Listens to the radio? Still do, yeah. Sometimes listen to the local AC station even. I'm pretty sure most of the people I went to high school with listened to rap music tho, so taking it out makes no freaking sense. It was the beginning of gangsta rap back then and I'm sure most of us know the words to "Nuthin' but a G Thang" by heart.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:11 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


tobascodagama: "I mean, yeah. If they want to keep airing hiphopless edits, then that's their choice"

That's the thing, though -- I don't think that's what they want to do. Younger people grew up on hip-hop, older people didn't. At some point, hip-hop will be all over AC, because that's what its listeners will want. It doesn't matter what color they are, the vast majority of younger people like hip-hop, and one day they will be the vast majority of older people. Radio stations will want to play the music that gets them listeners, so they'll want to play hip-hop. The question is about how to make the transition, during the brief interim period when AC listeners will be a mix of white folks who like hip-hop and white folks who don't.
posted by Bugbread at 8:59 PM on July 18, 2019


Back in the 90s I manually "censored" the Life Sex and Death song "Fuckin' Shitass" in real time for a broadcast so we could play it (the phrase "some fucking Shitass" is repeated so many times that riding the mute switch was like playing a drum, and the silences added their own rhythm to it.)

I can't help but think there is an opportunity here to have a station (at least on the internet) that plays nothing but loops of the parts that these stations remove.
posted by davejay at 11:12 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


> Bugbread: Younger people grew up on hip-hop, older people didn't.

I'm 43, and my friends and I started a rap group called "Run-DMC 2" when we were in 4th grade. If you were 18 when the first song with a rap verse in it hit #1*, you would be 56 today, so I'm not sure it's an age thing.

*It was Blondie's "Rapture" which leads to a whole nother discussion about how rap (like just about every other genre of popular music) had to be filtered through white performers before white audiences would accept it. The first "full" rap song to hit #1? "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Yikes.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:19 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Rock Steady: " If you were 18 when the first song with a rap verse in it hit #1*, you would be 56 today, so I'm not sure it's an age thing."

I disagree. We're about the same age, and there was a lot of rap growing up, but it was, for the most part, a separate entity from pop. Some people listened to pop and rap, and some people listened to pop but not rap.

In the 1980s and 1990s, crossovers existed, but they were so rare that you could probably name them all, like Aerosmith and Run DMC, for example.

Now, a huge percentage of pop songs have rap verses. You would go mad just trying to list them - "Taylor Swift with T-Pain and Future and Kendrick Lamar. Justin Bieber with Ludacris and Nicki Minaj and Drake and Big Sean. Katy Perry with Lil Yachty and Juicy J and Snoop Dog and Kanye West and Missy Elliot and Riff Raff and Timbaland. Maroon 5 with Wiz Khalifa and Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar." and on and on and on.

Our generation was one where someone could say "I listen to pop and I listen to rap," while for people growing up on modern Top 40 the sentence would be "I listen to pop so therefore I listen to rap." And that's a big difference.
posted by Bugbread at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2019


(Note: I'm using "rap" instead of "hip-hop" because I honestly don't know if a verse of people rapping on an otherwise pop song would count as hip-hop or as rapping-over-pop. If I should be using "hip-hop" above, feel free to substitute that mentally.)
posted by Bugbread at 8:54 AM on July 19, 2019


In the 1980s and 1990s, crossovers existed, but they were so rare that you could probably name them all

Like when Bob Dylan appeared on Kurtis Blow's 'Street Rock'--where's the two-and-a-half hour Martin Scorcese Netflix documentary about that moment?

(I think this assertion is more true in the '80s than the '90s--New Jack Swing kinda pioneered the idea of a rap verse in an r&b song in the late '80s/turn of the '90s, and rap features were widespread in the mid-'90s hip-hop soul era and, more often than not, in the years that followed.)
posted by box at 9:53 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm not communicating well. Sure, the late 80s/early 90s had Bell Biv Devoe and Bobby Brown and other R&B/New Jack Swing artists that were really big. No disagreement there. But there was still, even at that point, a huge chunk of completely rap-free Top40 pop music. This, I think, was the turning era, when you went from -- well, hell, I'll just make up random-ass numbers -- "90% of Top40 radio is white & rap-free" to "50% of Top40 radio is white & rap-free". So the audience of people who were in their high-school years in the early 90s will be far more receptive to rap than people from a decade earlier, but there will still be a chunk who did listen to Top40 pop, but never really listened to hip-hop & R&B. Once you hit the 00's and 10's, that's pretty much impossible. Indie pop, sure, but if you're listening to Top40 pop now, you're guaranteed to be constantly exposed to rap, even if you never listen to R&B or "pure" hip-hop.
posted by Bugbread at 10:14 AM on July 19, 2019




I agree that, while it was possible into the '90s to listen to pop but avoid hearing rap verses, it isn't really possible today (a few years ago I would've added 'except in country and CCM,' but I'm not sure that's even true any more). I take your point (and, probably, I vastly overestimate the levels of New Jack Swing and r&b in general on the Top 40 pop charts--I was in my high school years in the early '90s).
posted by box at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2019


Mid-2000s hipsters: "I listen to everything but rap and country."
Lil Nas X: "I'm about to end this man's whole career."
posted by tobascodagama at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


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