From the streets of New York City to the global stage, hip-hop has evolved from just a mere music genre into a powerful and influential movement that has left an indelible mark on society. Beyond its catchy lyrics and attractive beats, hip-hop offers its listeners a wealth of valuable lessons and insights that go far beyond the realms of music. That’s right, the art form often acts as the voice of an otherwise underrepresented group, staying true to its African oral tradition roots.
Traditionally, hip-hop was used as an authentic reflection of life in some of the US’s tougher neighborhoods, inviting listeners into the reality they face every day. The Public Enemy song Fight the Power, appeared in the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing, which calls out the racism and bigotry often felt in New York. Lee also shot the video for the group’s hit song, featuring a political march through Brooklyn repeating the slogan “We’ve got to fight the powers that be.”
The meaningful lyrics are definitely something worth pondering over, that’s for certain. They confirm that this kind of music is way more than a collection of rhymes and with rhythmic tempos. Although, there’s no denying that the great beats do enhance the message. After all, if the music wasn’t so enjoyable, it wouldn’t be used in many forms of entertainment, and this includes games which are available at the best SA no deposit casinos.
The start of hip-hop can be traced back to the 1970s, when Jamaican immigrant DJ Kool Herc began using an instrumental beat in between the songs he played, hypnotizing his audiences with spoken rhymes and poetry. This marked a new era of music that quickly gained popularity within the black communities in the Bronx. DJs began challenging each other through slang battles, using storytelling as a way to express their creativity.
By the 1980s, hip-hop was recognized as an official music genre alongside pop and rock; however, its lyrics were seen as more meaningful and thought-provoking. This is because many rap artists used the genre to manifest their experiences and frustrations with the lingering issues following the civil rights movements of the 1960s. The rap group N.W.A. gained prominence thanks to the themes they tackled in their music, such as race, poverty, crime, and violence. The group’s biggest hit, “”F— the Police,” accused the police of abusing their power during the crack epidemic, which would become prevalent when Rodney King was brutally attacked by LA police officers.
Jay-Z is regarded as one of the most influential artists within the hip-hop industry and helped catapult the genre into mainstream media in the 1990s and early 2000s. While rap was previously perceived as music for unserved communities, Jay-Z’s popularity helped expose more individuals, especially the privileged ones, to what was really happening in America. Through his lyrics, Jay-Z spoke about growing up in the Brooklyn projects and his firsthand experience with illicit drug dealing. Today, a media mogul and successful businessman is becoming a billionaire rapper.
Hip Hop Today
Unfortunately, most of the rap songs produced by younger artists today fail to match the lyrical excellence of their older counterparts. You can’t really compare Desiigner’s “Panda”, in which he chants “panda panda panda…” repeatedly, to Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 hit “The Message”, which describes the emotions of people living in poverty-stricken cities. Although there are a few exceptions, such as Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, in which he discussed the violent contradictions that come with being black in America as well as the rapidly rising rates of gun violence.
All in all, whether we are talking about the hip-hop songs of the past or some of the present, you simply can’t deny the power their lyrics yield. From talking about their poverty-stricken pasts in inner-city America to overcoming all the obstacles and rising to the top, rap lyrics can be a source of inspiration for those sharing in the same struggle, allowing them to believe that they too can achieve success despite their circumstances. Rap music will also always be a powerful tool to speak out against any injustices in the world, as many artists use their platform to provide a voice to the voiceless, providing an opportunity for them to make a positive change in their own lives.