As well as entertainment, hip hop has always been a tool for protest and social change.
From Tupac to Immortal Technique, a plethora of artists have used the music as a weapon to battle social and political injustice.
The first song that comes to mind when I think about a politically driven song is Immortal Technique and Mos Def’s “Bush Knocked Down the Towers.” Obviously a reference to 9/11 as an inside job, the artists meant to bring to light the conspiracy that the Bush administration and its cronies staged the terrorist attack to collect on the insurance money from the buildings’ destruction.
While it is hard to say exactly what happened and who is responsible for 9/11, Immortal Technique and Mos Def brought to light the fact that we all should question power and not fully trust in the ruling elite. After all, they are only human and susceptible to the trappings of money and influence.
Since the death of Trayvon Martin, killings of black men (some unarmed) by the police have inundated the media. Naturally, hip hop artists have spoken openly on social media, through news outlets, and in their music. Hotnewhiphop.com has a list dedicated to songs inspired by these recent slatings. A slew of mainstream artists have released protest songs to wake up their fans and take a stand against a corrupt establishment.
You hate me don’t you?
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture
You’re fuckin’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey
You vandalize my perception but can’t take style from me
And this is more than confession
I mean I might press the button just so you know my discretion
I’m guardin’ my feelings, I know that you feel it
You sabotage my community, makin’ a killin’
You made me a killer, emancipation of a real nigga
Kendrick is just one of many artists using his voice and influence to incite awareness. Usher, Nas, Beyonce, Killer Mike, Vic Mensa, and Vince Staples are also included in the Hotnewhiphop.com list.
These artists are all but obligated to use their pedestal and influence to support their culture and their people. As racial tension threatens to tear this country apart, artists are desperately needed as a voice of reason to enlighten and awaken the populace. Where trouble divides us, art can unite us. We are lucky to have hip hop artists and the culture to influence society and expose its flaws. Peace and Love.