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.

For example, Kid Cudi became famous for his spacey beats and resonating hums from his first mixtape “A Kid Named Cudi”. His experimental projects later in career were seen with extreme criticism due to the style wavering from this standard sound his fans had grown to love. His latest album was accepted and celebrated by the market as it returned to these familiar roots.

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.

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”.