section 3 - promise

In Hip-hop culture there is a phrase that represents the solidarity and commitment to our promises that exists within the community “Word is Bond”. This phrase while very simplistic represents the importance in us being able to keep our promises to one another.

When a brand makes a promise, it is communicating a guarantee of an expected experience & value to its audience.

For example, Walmart positions its brand as being the leading low-cost retailer. So what is their promise?

Simply – “Save Money. Live Better.” 

Walmart customers expect to save money every single time.

The lifespan of an artist and their brand is heavily tied to their ability to meet the expectations of the promise they make to their fans with the styling and message of their music. If an artist chooses to make a major change in the style and tone of their music in terms of their message, they risk losing their audience because they have lost the continuity of what the original promise had communicated.

Example - Kendrick lamar


When it comes to Kendrick Lamar, one of his promises is to have substance. Swimming Pools was a banger but when you listen to more than the chorus you realize it is the exact opposite of a “drinking song”. Along those same lines Be Humble was another song of Kendrick’s with commercial appeal, but the concept of the song was still on brand. Consider that along with his positive messaging, it is a part of his brand expectation to not disrespect women. If so, why aren’t people outraged about this line?

I'm so fuckin' sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretch marks
Still will take you down right on your mama's couch in Polo socks

He didn't mean it that way, but the line did apparently still come off as offensive to some women. There was little true uproar about it because it is in line with his brand expectation of having substance as opposed to being superficial. Anyone who isn’t being overly critical knows he’s saying “I like women as-is, I don’t need them to make superficial changes out of insecurity. I appreciate your natural beauty.” He even pointed out not having a problem with stretch marks - which many women are insecure about.

more examples

Ugly God promises to be fun.

Beyonce promises to entertain her butt off.

Chris Brown promises to dance.

Janelle Monae promises not to have an over-sexed image. 

Yo Gotti promises to represent for the “streets”.