Hip-hop yoga studio apologizes for cultural appropriation

A popular hip-hop yoga studio changes tone.

Y7, a New York-based hot yoga studio that performs the music of black artists like Tupac and Biggie in his classes among other musicians, apologizes for “appropriating hip hop and black culture”, saying he will expand his playlists to include other genres of music. But industry insiders and people of color say he should keep the music and focus on making it more accessible to marginalized communities.

Popular yoga studio apologizes for appropriating hip hop culture. (iStock)

“The appropriation of hip hop and black culture over our branding, the inadequate representation of leadership and clientele, and the for-profit use of hip hop music in the classroom experience when it comes down to it. is played inauthentically by instructors – we recognize this and take responsibility for it. problematic co-optation that has gone on for too long. We are deeply sorry with empathy, ”studio Y7 wrote in a post on its Instagram page Thursday.

“Our promise is to stop enjoying hip hop music, hip hop culture or black culture,” the statement continued.

The studio, which charges around $ 25 per class with locations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, said it would expand its hip-hop-centric playlists to become a “music-focused studio.” He also plans to change his branding in studios, on merchandise and on his website, such as removing the phrase “A tribe called sweat,” based on hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest.

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But some yogis push back, saying the studio shouldn’t change its hip-hop roots.

“Keep the music on, add more color to the payroll,” one commenter wrote on the company’s post.

Another commentator, who identified himself as a person of color, agreed.

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“It makes me sad. I love Y7, but so many of those things that you seem to feel compelled to change are what made it a great place to truly embrace my practice as a POC,” they said. , adding: “Bringing yoga to marginalized communities and fundraising for different causes is good but please stay who you are !! I have seen more diversity in your studios than in any one other gym / studio in New York.

The yoga studio wrote in the Instagram post that in the future it will partner with organizations that support Blacks, Aboriginals and people of color to offer free classes to their members to make the classes more accessible. He’s also reworking his hip hop-themed class days like #HipHopWednesday and #HipHopSunday to incorporate a charitable component.

A number of gyms, fitness studios, and streaming services, like Soul Cycle and Peloton, have run for-profit hip-hop-themed classes. And while fitness instructors and gyms have traditionally made hip-hop part of routines and studios, branding experts say the bigger issue is supporting the community that helped grow your business.

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“Rap music is the most popular form of music in the world right now, but where you can get in trouble is when you care more about the big beats than people or the big story they are from. come “, Nandi Welch, Head of Business Strategy at Breakup Studio, a branding consulting firm that has worked with companies like Nike and Pepsi, told FOX Business. “Take this love of hip-hop and its source, black culture, and incorporate it into everything you do. Live this commitment to this culture in a way other than banging it over the loudspeakers. “

Y7’s apology comes amid a nationwide toll for US companies, brands and businesses amid a social justice movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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A number of mainstream brands have committed to changing their brands and logos associated with racial appropriation or stereotypes. Pepsi-owned Quaker Oats changes the name of its 130-year-old pancake and syrup brand, Aunt Jemima, acknowledging that the brand, which features a black woman named Aunt Jemima, has “stereotype-based origins racial”. Uncle Ben’s Rice, owned by Mars Inc., followed last week, saying he would stop making products with his character Uncle Ben.

“Take this love of hip-hop and the source, black culture, and incorporate it into everything you do. Live this commitment to this culture in a way other than banging it through the loudspeakers.”

– Nandi Welch, Head of Commercial Strategy at Rupture Studio

“It’s a healthy thing that organizations – big and small – take an interest in and make sure they don’t take ownership of a culture, but at the same time, what has to go along with that is to recognize the value and impact that Black culture has had on American culture and global culture and that’s not a bad thing, just tie it to the people and to the source, ”Welch said.

CORRECTION: The cost for Y7 yoga is $ 25 per class. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the price.

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