Earlier this summer, hip-hop and R&B overtook Rock and Roll as the most popular music genre in America. The announcement was published in outlets like Forbes and Business Insider, and was to many a sign of the changing music industry landscape. This is true to an extent, because while Rock sells more physical copies annually, hip-hop and R&B dominate the streaming landscape, with services like Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music providing an incredibly low barrier of entry for young artists looking for an audience. The result of these increasingly permeable industry walls is that hip-hop has become a larger part of mainstream culture than it's ever been.
At Notre Dame, hip-hop is an important part of campus culture. Hip-Hop Night at Legends draws some of the club’s biggest crowds, and the music is ubiquitous at social events of every variety. Despite the fact that urban music has become such a central part of social life on campus, there aren't too many avenues for young student artists and performers seeking an audience. The Black Cultural Arts Council has various events that include student performers, like their annual Black Coffee House event, but there’s no regular outlet like Acousticafe for students to hone their performance skills in a low pressure environment. Some Notre Dame students are taking action to create more events like this for Notre Dame’s aspiring producers, DJs, rappers and singers, as well as curating more prominent hip-hop artists for concerts on campus.
Sophomore Daniel Jimenez saw the disconnect between the prevalence of hip-hop at Notre Dame and the lack of a community where people could talk about interesting developments in the scene, and he decided to take action. Jimenez started a club, Urban Wave, with the goal of “creating a place where people could talk about music, make music, and create a community of people who love urban culture.” Through weekly meetings, student concerts and larger events with notable artists, Jimenez wants to fill the gap between the dominance of hip-hop culture and the relative lack of exposure it has on campus. The club is the first of its kind for Notre Dame, and Jimenez hopes to make urban culture a more visible presence on campus, with things like student rap cyphers and concerts planned to bring attention to the many aspiring artists on campus. Urban Wave’s first meeting is on Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. in 102 LaFortune, and anyone with an interest in hip-hop, R&B or urban culture in general is welcome.
While hip-hop and R&B might be underrepresented on campus in terms of opportunities for student performers, some Notre Dame students are taking steps to increase the genre’s presence on campus in many ways, and Urban Wave is just one example of how this action is being taken.