Recently I was watching a video on Dead End Hip Hop’s YouTube channel titled “Will Conscious Hip Hop Ever Become Popular Again“. There were a lot of great points made on both sides of the discussion but a couple of things caught my ear. As they mentioned J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar respectively and a comment was made about how Cole and Kendrick are probably the only two emcees that can make a “conscious” song popular and receive radio play. Kendrick seems to be the more blunt and direct while Cole is a little more digestible for the masses. This comparison had me likening the two to Malcolm X and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr because of their delivery and styles. People felt the same way about Malcolm X and his blatant display of consciousness and on the other hand you have MLK Jr. as the lighter more palatable approach to social issues affecting our community.
Not every Rapper is capable of communicating their feelings appropriately. Future may not be able to articulate his issues with police brutality like a Talib Kweli but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t agree. There was a comment made that people don’t want to hear that type of music from certain entertainers which I agree with but the follow up was that we or you the listener don’t want to hear conscious music at all! Do we? Do you? I know I do but I’m not the youthful demographic that is targeted by Rap labels and executives. You can listen to our #HipHopPlaylist and listen to Hip Hop that focuses on societal ills and you know most of what I write focuses on the relationship between todays’ Hip Hop Culture and North American society but what about the youth? What do they want? Do they just want to party? What about that college student majoring in nuclear science? Is she supposed to listen to Chief Keef while she studies? What about the elementary school student that can’t do his homework because he has to get the Whip/Nae Nae down before tomorrow’s recess?
Rap music consumers are mostly children so how about we treat them as such. Kids always want too much of one thing. They always want candy or a popsicle for breakfast instead of toast and eggs. Why are we letting these kids tell us what to feed them? Aren’t we the adults? Artists need to stop doing what the popular parents are doing and feed their fans something healthy; just a little food for thought. If you have a dedicated fan base they’ll listen to whatever type of music you make! You can do an album about sex and drugs but can we get one or two with a message. There’s nothing wrong with a dessert after you eat your dinner. Pac did both and he is a Hip Hop icon but Tupac was cut from the cloth of a revolutionary fabric. We can have both all “types” of Rap music coexisting together like we did once upon a time.
The difficulty is getting to the parents. A lot of parents and their children listen to the same music. We have to find a way to intercept and separate the party messages from the real messages. Parents have to parent. Rap and Hip Hop fans want both to work together in the same space. There is so much going on in the world of our young people and the music should reflect that. We can’t just use apathy as an excuse not to require certain Rappers to be more responsible with their artistry as that is counterproductive and redundant.