The social state of our country post-election is fragile at best, volatile at worst, and simply put, confusing. In times like these Americans tend to look to figures and role models who can make a difference in their platforms, and when it comes to many of the issues of race that the President-elect Trump has spoke upon and/or caused, hip hop artists are a key point in making the voices of the voiceless heard. Throughout the history of hip hop, lyrics have become an important soapbox for generationally polarizing figures to stand on and in the best cases make serious change.
From KRS-one to Tupac Shakur, to modern day hip hop artists and activists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole who have all been vital in the understanding of racism in America, hip hop artists now more than ever should be willing, eager, and able to step up and make their voices heard. As a hopeful fan looks towards idolized hip hop figures, a clear decline has emerged and that is a monumental problem for the state of hip hop musically and in a more important sense, socially. Rappers like Lil yachty, Lil uzi vert, Young Thug, etc. call themselves or are known as part of the so called “new wave” hip hop movement. Not only is the quality of music nothing more than, at best, fun, but the quality of lyrics and message within those lyrics is concerning and harmful. This is not coming from a hip hop hater, or even someone who doesn’t necessarily care about the music, but instead a lover of the music and culture which makes it all the more sad to see how far hip hop has come and witness the popularity of artists such as those aforementioned.
To be fair, that is more because as a fan who leans towards the more “old school,” the new wave sound isn’t an enjoyable one, but no matter how much one likes the music, the content is still garbage. Pull one quote from any “new wave” artist that is a positive or honest message and I’ll shut up, but I’ve done my research and it just doesn’t show up. The decline of the social climate of hip hop matched with a polarized country due to the election is something that could create a hole for the over arching social fabric of our societies landscape as a whole. Believe it or not, hip hop is mainstream and when the artists who are mainstream don’t fight for social justice, then they aren’t speaking for the fans who aren’t heard on such a large scale. This creates an easy scapegoat for bigots to categorize an entire genre and culture as immature and ignorant Based upon the popular artists content. If this doesn’t change then the voice of the people of hip hop will not be heard, and change cannot come, which will further divide our country and in fact create a larger crevice between the two sides.
graphic by: Maggie Udd