Hip Hop: A Voice To The Voiceless

How the evolution of hip-hop contributes a power of great willingness to stand up, speak out and do more.

Since the birth of hip-hop and rap music, as a sub genre in particular, it has always been a stomping ground for pure freedom of expression. Whether giving a glimpse of hope through pain and struggle, or even dancing in celebration and triumph, the delivered message has always been key.  Being a rap-enthusiast myself, I think back to movements I gravitated towards. I gravitated through the impactful “Fight The Power” Public Enemy era that empowered minorities and the impoverished through its demanding lyrics of awareness and black panther-esq ways of thought.  Trickling down to the overly, yet unambiguously aggressive “F* Tha Police” NWA era, unwarranted police brutalities taking place all over inner city neighborhoods in America became the focal point. From the b-boys to the graffiti artists, to the rappers; rebellion against the (corrupt) establishment forever remains our driving force. Year by year, while the genre continues to grow, these sentiments still hold to be true.  

It makes for no issue why rappers who are held in high regard are placed in their tier positions.  Early stages of Kanye West on national tv exposing sentiments of disgust in former president George Bush bought us confidence. Celebratory anthems of “My President Is Black” by Pastor Jeezy lended a voice to the voiceless. Influencing more drastic measures of unity, YG & Nipsey Hussle scream heartfelt expletives in the direction of current president Donald Trump for reasons most have come to side with.  Even “Rap Gods” such as Hov got in the mix with controversial visuals with “The Story of OJ” and had the world on its toes while showcasing stereotypes and modern day systemic racism. Hip-Hop heavyweights thrive in their weight class wrestling social issues.

2018 has been nothing short of using the hip-hop platform to draw attention to necessary issues threatening our growth.  Opening the top of the year, Kendrick Lamar delivered a persuasive Grammy performance featuring a collective of songs from “DAMN,” contributing a necessary eye and ear to middle America.  Also navigating with pure freedom of expression, Childish Gambino kept the ball rolling releasing his thought provoking song & visual “This Is America.” Numerous reenactments of chaotic gun violence while masking it with joy and distraction in mass media, Gambino evoked chatter across America once again establishing  the power of Hip Hop.

With much of the culture affected by drugs to cope, social media to distract, and gun violence to attack– projects from artists like Wale, (“Self Promotion” EP) encourage empowerment for people of color with  a clear stance on records such as “Negotiations” & “Salary Kaep” to raise awareness. Preceded by his peer, J. Cole does lyrical justice taking on non judgemental but assertive stances throughout “KOD.” Depression in our communities is an eternal issue and a means to escape. Tracks like “The Cut Off,” “ATM,” and this past weekends compelling BET performance of “FRIENDS,” alongside Wale and Daniel Caesar–all provide urgent guidance from our idols through empathy and visual representation.

No stranger to cause and effect, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s imprisonment and release sparked a conversation of its own all across media platforms.  Welcoming his voice, Meek administered a cutting edge performance at the BET awards this weekend while totally surprising fans with his new single “Stay Woke” feat. Miguel. Meek dons a picturesque jacket drawing attention to recent victims of gun violence (rappers xxxtentacion and Jimmy Wopo).  All the while performing scenes of police brutality, drug sales, domestic violence, and child neglect, play out through an inner city telescope. “We scream Black lives Matter, but we still toting ladders / Watching our own brothers tryna get at us … They told us to hate each other before we learn how to walk”– Meek, like his former and present peers, flexes freedom in the form of art. Once again, this persuades us to unify before its too late.  

Like it or not, hip-hop lives and breathes freedom of expression.  When done correctly, conversation is provoked and hopeful change is ignited. The power in words become crystal clear while listening to rap music. When genre is transcended, those considered the best understand their power and use it accordingly. Whether past, present or future, hip-hop will always be a proactively decisive voice to the voiceless.

Darnell Schoolfield

Nell is an established writer with years of experience contributing to the building of brands through journalism, web building, brand management, and artistry. Follow him on Twitter.Twitter

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