Political Meanings Behind Hip Hop

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Do you ever think about the lyrics and the message an artist is trying to convey to their audience? Hip Hop music or Rap music as it is sometimes called is one genre of music whose beats are strong, and lyrics send very powerful messages. This type of music today is the most popular music genre worldwide because it crosses cultures and races. Not only does it span such a diverse audience, but more importantly it has been used as one of the most powerful platforms of political activism and debate.

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Political rap, a subgenre of the larger rap genre, follows the model of uniting African Americans through the music by discussing issues relevant to the Black community and providing information about injustices the community members face. (Bonnette, Pulse of the People) This paper will look at the history of hip hop/rap and its political impact. It will address the political environment during different periods of history and the message of those writing hip hop/rap lyrics to address what they or the world was facing.

To understand the true essence of hip hop/rap one must first understand the origin of it. In the 1970’s an urban movement known as hip hop began to develop in the South Bronx of New York City. According to an article title Hip Hop is for Everybody: Examining the Roots and Growth of Hip Hop, this genre of music came about during a time when many Blacks and Hispanics were displaced and left with minimal resources, lack of leadership and lack of political power. It was stated by an article that the culture was established by African American, Caribbean American, and Puerto Rican youth. (worldpress.clarku.edu) Hip Hop/Rap music allowed individuals to voice their frustrations of feeling oppressed, vulnerable, and under-represented. It was a way for youth to release their creativity and aggression. As said in an article named ‘Hip Hop and rap as art and as an agent of change for social justice and political reform’, its another kind of language and voice for the voiceless..it’s a way for black folk nearly always silenced, rudely interrupted or vocally overrun by those privileged only by the paler color of their skin to finally and empathetically be heard. (charterforcompassion.org)

One of the first hip hop/rap artist was Clive Campbell also known as DJ Kool Herc. DJ Kool Herc was a Jamaican American DJ, he was influenced by soul, rock, funk, reggae, and dancehall. He was credited with helping originate hip hop music in the Bronx New York City, in the early 1970’s. He is also credited for throwing a hip-hop party in 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick avenue in the Bronx. At his parties he would encourage people to dance in a way that is now known as rapping.

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