Glass Popcorn: Is This High School Rapper "Destroying Hip-Hop?"

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The conventional hip-hop persona is right in line with the values of this brand, he argues. "Some people look at hip-hop musicians as these people that associate really closely with masculine things, filled with testosterone and really exclusive of other lifestyles. It's questionable that brands like that equate energy and activity with competitive, masculine things."

Glass Popcorn is just one product of the Internet generation's obsessive social media use combining with the realms of dissociative art and old-fashioned cult of celebrity. Comparisons could be made to explicit teen-rapper Kitty Pryde (of "Okay Cupid" notoriety) or the post-ironic vapidity of fashionista Bebe Zeva. However, Neibergall said a better example of a peer would be 16-year-old fashion blogger turned couture sensation Tavi Gevinson, who founded the feminist fashion-culture website Rookie Magazine.

Even though the music is informed and disseminated by Internet culture, Glass Popcorn is not YouTube parody rap, nor does it resemble the nerd culture celebration of MC Chris or MC Frontalot. "Those people are off-putting to mainstream radio listeners. It's fueled by reference to exclusive things or communities, or it's just snarky against the mainstream. I hope the music I create is both appealing to those people as well as mainstream rap listeners, and that it's presented in some form that will make consumers of content question the structure of the art that they bear witness to."

Neibergall says hip-hop in 2012 is very conflicted, filled with opposing ideas and heavily-mediated personalities. He is inspired by the absurdity of Lil B, the former member of Oakland rap crew The Pack whose Internet persona manifested into a mainstream presence. Lil B is notorious for his bizarre self-deifying (anointing himself The Based God) and the dubious sincerity of his opposition to rap misogyny and homophobia (titling a recent mixtape I'm Gay).

"If you look at the contradictions in Lil B's music, he raps about guns and women and stuff," Neibergall says, "while at the same time, his Twitter page always has things about positive language and treatment of women."

Glass Popcorn is also informed by sheer hypnotic power of certain kinds of party rap and dance craze music, culminating in what he considers "profoundly meaningless content."

"I'm inspired by music that means nothing, like Soulja Boy, that people get really transfixed by and that doesn't actually communicate anything to them," he says.

Toying with these opposing forces inherent in today's rap landscape is the basis of the project. "That conflict is something I play off of," he says, "searching for an outcome and trying to enrich pop music to make it something valuable."

Ultimately, he sees Glass Popcorn as an institutional critique, one that aims to start a conversation about brand identity, hip-hop's trajectory, and cognitive pop dissonance. Criticism is the goal: Neibergall always leaves the door open to haters, as long as it results in an engaging comment thread.

"I saw someone comment on YouTube that I was destroying hip-hop, and that's okay," he says, "as long as it leads to a conversation about what hip-hop is and how it's destroyed."

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Chase Kamp
Contact: Chase Kamp