I have a confession. As a teenager the music genre that most shaped my world-view was hip-hop. I know that seems odd to some since I don’t fit the stereotype. It was Notorious BIG, Tupac, P-Diddy, Ma$e, DMX, Eminem, Too $hort, and others that came over my radio much to my parent’s dismay.
Hip-hop has had a polarizing history within its own ranks. It has had voices for change. Those who represent the oppressed and overlooked. Those who made sure their hoodies and grim faces struck fear in the establishment if for no other reason than that they deserved a little fear like the rest of the world.
On the other hand, then there are songs about fast cars, g-strings on female bodies, anti-feminist sexuality, and a long list of vices.
While we may not find a time when hip-hop has been “moral” there has been thoughtful lyrics and insight. Sadly, hip-hop artist didn’t realize how the establishment shuts you up. They give you money. Now hip-hop artist are wealthier and more comfortable than most of the rest of us. Not much angst to fuel social change can be found when you are parking your BMW in your four car garage on the side of your mansion.
Let me toss a name out there for you to consider if you are seeking lyrics that meet modern beats: Lupe Fiasco.
I won’t say much more about it, but consider the subjects addressed in the song “Words I Never Said”:
The “War on Terror”:
I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bulls**t
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
How much money does it take to really make a full clip
9/11 building 7 did they really pull it
Uhh, And a bunch of other cover ups
Children and their schools:
Your childs future was the first to go with budget cuts
If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut
The school was garbage in the first place, thats on the up and up
Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the uppercrust
You get it then they move you so you never keeping up enough
If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the f*cks”
Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
And that aint Jersey Shore, homie thats the news
And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Domestic and international politics:
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t
Thats why I aint vote for him, next one either
I’ma part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people.
Now you can say it aint our fault if we never heard it
But if we know better than we probably deserve it
Jihad is not a holy war, wheres that in the worship?
Murdering is not Islam!
And you are not observant
And you are not a muslim
And that is just a sample. You may not like what he says, but you can’t say it isn’t thoughtful. Thus far the album seems to live up to this song’s standard as a whole. Let me say one more time. If you are missing the days when hip-hop challenged the status quo, consider Lupe Fiasco’s work.
To listen to the full thing watch this video:
See his interview with Tavis Smiley here.