Conscious Hip Hop is the was and still is the back bone of hip hop music. It is a sub genre that challenges the political, economic, cultural, and philosophical status quo that affects oppressed people. Most people that are affected by these social challenges are African Americans. Hip hop was used a media platform to inform black people what was going in their communities in different regions and to educate. Often times mainstream media will gloss over the black community and so hip hop music serves as our black CNN.
Over the past few decades Hip Hop has become extremely popular and gained a wider audience, therefore become more commercialized and diluted. Radio and television stations has curved conscious hip hop for the more raunchy and simplistic forms of music.
There have been many socially conscious artists or groups in every generation such as Grand Master Flash “The Message”, Public Enemy “Fight The Power”, N.W.A, A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, BlackStar, Gangstar, Nas, Common and so many others.
Now it is a new generation of artists and music. Hip Hop has changed, not say there is no good music because there is. But half of it pays homage to the trappers, strippers, and ballers.
Not to fear because for every trapper there is that socially conscious artist that catches your eye and demands respect from the masses.
In my eyes there three mainstream artist that fit the bill right now; J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Joey Badass. Lets briefly examine their careers and the marks they have made so far.
J. Cole the platinum selling artist has used his platform to uplift others or support what he believes in regarding injustice and problems in society. He dropped tracks just to name a couple such as “Be Free,” a tribute dedicated to Michael Brown, He released the “G.O.M.D.” video to much praise in 2015. The rapper plays a house slave who stages a slave uprising, rallying the plantation’s servants to revolt against their owners. The visual subliminally touches on America’s dark history and complexion stigmas.
He has also been pro active using his newly-released documentary, 4 Your Eyez Only,as he gives a voice to the voiceless members of the black community in several areas of the United States. J. Cole joined protests in Eric Garner’s honor in New York. Through his Dreamville Foundation is dedicated to creating programs and events that will allow our youth to be ‘Set up for Success.’
Kendrick Lamar has become one of the most powerful voices in the rap game. Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly topped many a year-end list in 2015, but it is one of the most intensely politicized, alienating mainstream albums ever. Most notably for “Alright,” which became a powerful anthem in Black Lives Matter’s fight against police violence. He picked up where he left off with his new album DAMN in 2017 with another politically charged album.
He is one of the most under rated rappers of this youth generation. A few weeks ago Joey dropped his sophomore album ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ The Brooklyn native addressing the sociopolitical climate in America during a President Donald Trump regime. Over the last five years, He has led a movement that recalls rap’s glory days. He has dropped tracks substance such as “Survival Tactics” and “Waves” exemplifying golden era revivalism.