Truant London’s UNRULY celebrates 50 years of hip-hop

Exploring hip-hop's roots, legacy, and relationship with brands

Last Thursday (30 November), Truant London celebrated 50 years since the birth of hip-hop in its latest edition of UNRULY, an event series designed to bring together the best emerging talent with industry leaders.

Held exclusively for brand marketers, the night explored hip-hop’s roots, legacy, and relationship with brands through a panel discussion and music showcase.

Chris Jefford, Jay Davidson, Danny Fahey, Aaron Fairweather, and Flohio. Image Credit: Truant

Hosted at The Lower Third by Truant CEO Chris Jefford, the panel included Consultant and Connector in Broadcast and Music Jay Davidson; Culture and Partnerships Director at Thirty Pound Gentleman Danny Fahey; Culture and Partnerships Manager Aaron Fairweather; and Nigerian-born British rapper Flohio.

The panelists discussed all things hip-hop and culture, from the icons who influenced their music journey, to the evolving relationship between hip-hop and brands, unpacking what brands’ are getting right and wrong in marketing. 

Davidson recalled that in the earlier days of hip-hop, the relationship between brands and the movement was more organic. Currently, brands face the challenge of finding a place in the movement that they can interact with authentically. Many brands include elements from the hip-hop movement in their campaigns for the sake of ‘jumping on the trend’, Fairweather said, coming off as inauthentic and forced.

Brands who are interested in integrating parts of the hip-hop culture into their campaigns should look at Jacquemus’ campaign with Central Cee and Stormzy’s partnership with adidas Football as examples, the panelists said. Fahey emphasised the importance of putting in the work to understand the movement, saying: ‘Looking at who has the most followers on Instagram is not research.

The panel was followed up with performances by UK hip-hop artists SANITY, Verbz, and Coops.

Featured image: Coops performing at UNRULY / Truant London. All images are credited to Truant London.