The essence of Hip-Hop has always been rooted in the ideology that it speaks from a place of honesty. It reflects the direct experiences of whoever is channeling its platform.
However, over the years these ideals have often been altered resulting in a spectrum that divides Hip-Hop musical content into multiple categories, from trap music to television theme songs. That being said, this culture has produced a plethora of artists who may not associate with each other or even grow resentful of one another at times.
What can be said however, is that there is common ground and unification reached when pertaining to matters of injustice. The most recent example of this is the waves of artists who have and still continue to voice their dismay at the tragedy that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and the resulting incidents that have transpired since then.
While Hip-Hop is often scrutinized for its depictions of violence, those accounts are expressed under the creative license artists obtain when they dedicate themselves to the craft, which is guaranteed regardless by the constitution of the United States Of America. To omit that topic would be the equivalent of confiscating a color from a painters palette. It is through this logic that it seems fitting for Hip-Hop to be at the forefront of any conversation revolving around violence and social awareness.
Regardless of the politics, Hip-Hop artists have shown that they still recognize the roots of their genre and as a result the majority rally together promoting social awareness on this topic and many that have come before it. There are always exceptions to the rule, most recently rapper Young Thug was an artist who showed his lack of compassion and understanding in regards to Mike Browns murder and surrounding topics.
When interviewed about the incident, he relayed the feeling that it didn’t bother or effect him in the least and wasn’t important because he was as he so elegantly put it: “we iced out, we having fun”.
The list of artists who have been actively involved in promoting awareness pertaining to all of the events in Ferguson include (but isn’t limited to): Tech N9ne, Killer Mike, J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Snoop Dogg, T.I, Game, Nelly, Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown, Jeezy, Common, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, Macklemore, B.O.B., 9th Wonder, David Banner, and Diddy.
Many more remain unlisted in the interest of propelling the main point: Hip-Hop is one of the most relevant and powerful conduits capable of advancing social awareness which in turn educates and motivates individuals. What force could be more powerful? Hip-Hop has only flexed a portion of its mass at the problems that need to be addressed, and while these efforts continue to shed light the genre cannot become complacent. The power of this medium is evident and it’s time that those involved took advantage of the level of attention they receive that ultimately rivals that of the twenty-four hour news cycle.
Bill O’ Reilly unwittingly acknowledged the power of Hip-Hop while interviewing Lupe Fiasco. He was harassing Lupe in the interview about comments that the artist made about President Obama. Following Fiasco’s explanation and defense, Mr. O’Reilly states: “You are oversimplifying and bringing a message to the people that is not true and misleading them”.
I highlight his statement because under all of his harassment, Mr. O’Reilly shows fear in the face of a force much stronger than his constitutes. Reiterating Lupe’s statement, it doesn’t matter if you have a political science degree, it isn’t necessary to understand the world around you.
If Hip-Hop can continue to not only give these issues attention, but encourage others to do the same then eventually it will provide the nourishment necessary to develop a generation of free-form thinkers. They won’t take incidents for face value, but will go against popular opinion if it means uncovering the truth and obtain a deeper level understanding of everyday occurrences. Injustice didn’t make its debut in Ferguson, and at the time of this writing there are more injustices occurring all over the world.