This past week in the United States of America we had elections for various political offices in various states. While the Republicans and Democrats debated we complained about BET not airing the debates on the black entertainment network. With November being Hip Hop History Month I thought maybe we should reflect on Hip Hop’s political legacy and what it is today. Early on in the creation of Rap music is was mostly fun party music while graffiti took on the heavier sociopolitical aspects of society. You can find early tags and bombs reflecting people’s political opinions and anytime you see graffiti mourning the loss of life best believe that type of artistry screams to the social issues that plague that community. Whether it was on a train, a bus, or truck graffiti did then what social media does now; create awareness. It was easy to get the message from a subway train filled with aerosol art because it was a staple in the community but if you have the ability to choose who to follow what are the chances of you following someone delivering the right message or something that is of tangible significance? Most Rappers aren’t following or “friends” with those serving in political offices for the communities they live in. So how can they know when or who to vote for? Are they active in the political process? Have you ever seen a Rapper at the polls? I’ll give some of them the benefit of the doubt and hope they vote(d) via absentee ballot.
When Barack Obama was running for office Hip Hop showed out, I thought it was 1994 not 2004. Why isn’t Hip Hop or Rap music consistent in the messages they promote? If we are going to talk about politics we have to continually talk about politics. Politics and government does not stop once an election is over. (Unless you’re talking about Congress who just approved 255 days off for 2016) Politics is not a fashion statement. People are complaining about Obama not doing anything for the Black community but the Black community never told him what we need. LGBT wanted marriage, Latinos want immigration, and Black people want what? Yes, the Black community needs a lot of things but what do we need right now? We have to prioritize the movement so after we’ve gotten one agenda item done we go on down the list, checking off each item of the revolution and Rappers need to get involved! Imagine if Migos told their fans they’re signing autographs for every person who goes to the polls…those young voters would register and vote without thinking twice! It’s the little things that we can do to encourage change.
We still need groups like Public Enemy, N.W.A., Soulquarians, Immortal Technique, and the rest because future mentioning police brutality in one line on an entire album is not going to change anything. People complain that some states what recipients of state benefits to take a drug test but didn’t go to the polls to vote against the act/law. Don’t use ignorance as an excuse if you’re not seeking the knowledge. Where are the “My President is Black” songs? I can’t even get a mainstream Rapper to dedicate a song to a victim of police brutality. Kendrick and Cole can’t do it alone, the radio won’t even play their songs if it doesn’t send the type of message they want us to hear. When Puffy shouted vote or die in 2004 I think he might’ve been predicting our future.