America’s most lucrative export is cultural media. One of the many phenomena that originated in America and spread to the world is Hip Hop music. I’m certain that Hip Hop has been in India since its first début thirty years ago. I’m starting to see a new trend in how hip hop artists enter India. American rappers not only performing for India’s huge hungry market for Hip Hop, but are starting to rap in Hindi.
Behind every ghetto fabulous hip hop artist is a team of marketers and strategists that work to squeeze has much money from fame as possible. Just like with any product the team wants to expand to new geographies. Like when Beyoncé sings a Spanish version to sell in South America. The new frontier for hip hop is India.
Recently Akon and his team of strategists, made famous by his sensible hit “Sexy Bitch”, released a song in Hindi. Team Akon is a first mover in a trend of Western artists turning east for bigger concert turn outs and new markets. There are far less American Hip Hop artists in India than in America, so Team Akon can grab a bigger market share. This move into India is a really fascinating example of globalization, cultural accommodation, and the strength of the young Indian consumer.
But Akon’s move might not be a first, the artist Nelly who disappeared from America radio for several years came back with tours in South Asia. He doesn’t sing in Hindi, but he culturally transposes his music. (Technically Nelly’s move is into Pakistan, but the music market is shared through the Muslim community.)
Pop music has also been allowing in India flavor for an exotic appeal. Selena Gomez’s song “Come & Get It” has a Hindustani vocal sample and the video is a dark take on the typical Bollywood female roaming through a pasture. This song wasn’t successful in India, but it showed how the West is looking at India to inspire a tired genre.
This trend of America artist accommodating Indian style to get into their market is interesting because just a few years ago the song “Jai Ho” had to be re-worked through the corporate group The Pussy Cat Dolls to get onto American radio. Now American artists are fine tuning their sound to land on South Asian radio.