Throughout the history of our culture, music has always had a significant role. This is due to how it has reflected current events in society. However, more recently one genre of music has more accurately reflected politics and society in ways that were not currently seen. This genre of music is hip-hop. Due to its more recent popularity among the general public, it has become a platform for musicians to express and educate society about political and social issues. Also, it has become a way to promote certain ideas and ways of thinking.
One current example of how hip-hop is being used as a political tool is the group A Tribe Called Quest. This group formed in 1985 has been based off of expressing social and political issues in their music. More recently they have released a new album with a song entitled We The People… “All you Black folks you must go, All you Mexicans you must go, and all you poor folks, you must go Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways”. This song lyric implicitly reflects upon president Donald Trump’s views and policies. The importance of this is that it allows people that would not usually partake in politics to be exposed to the current political climate.
However, politics is not the only thing that hip hop music addresses. Another main component of hip-hop music is how it also addresses social issues, in particular police brutality and misconduct. One example of this can be found in songs by various groups such as N.W.A. References to this issue can also be found in more recent songs by Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar. This shows that these same issues have been occurring throughout modern history and musicians are still making songs and alluding to these social and political issues in their music. Due to this, it shows how much of a recurring theme this is through hip hop music.
“When grassroots movements mobilize and make change by uniting people to challenge the coercive power of an illegitimate and oppressive authority, this is a clear contest between collaborative power-with and coercive power-over.” This quote from Re: Imaging Change by Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough applies directly to how hip hop music is creating a movement in society that is bringing awareness of political and social issues that are occurring and trying to rise against these powers that are causing these problems. Also, this connects to power dynamics. This is due to how all the issues that hip hop music seeks to address all relate back to how groups are battling over power and trying to either cause change or resist change.
Overall, hip-hop music has had significant impacts on our society. Due to how mainstream and popular it has become, this has allowed for musicians to use this music to help bring attention to political and social issues. Also, this theme of hip-hop strongly connected to social and political issues has been prominent for many decades and is not only a recent trend. By studying this it will us to further understand how music can have an impact on society and how current issues influence music.
Reinsborough, Patrick, and Doyle Canning. RE:imagining Change: How to Use Story-based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World. Oakland, CA: PM, 2010. Print.