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

2 Comments

  1. “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..”

    Black artists dont owe white fans anything, and they especially dont owe you whatever response you’ve decided they should have to their own oppression. YOU should be willing, eager and able to step up and do the work that needs to be done in the wake of this election from your position of privelege.

    also young thug has done more to challenge oppressive systems in one album than you ever have:)

  2. I have a few questions.

    Why are only hip-hop artists obliged to use their platform to address social issues? Why can’t any of the many idolized musical stars that don’t produce rap also fight for these social issues? Understanding that there’s a very critical connection between hip-hop and African-American culture, isn’t it kind of ironic that you’re trying to dictate how hip-hop artists should function with regards to combating racism? Shouldn’t they be free to create the kind of art they want? Isn’t being pressured to conform to white people’s standards of activism a form of oppression? Couldn’t your article then function as a form of that oppression?

    Did you consider how admitting your bias could affect the interpretation of your claim that all new wave rap is “garbage”? Why does simply being a fan give you the authority to determine a genre’s worth? Couldn’t this be likened to the language of the bigots you bring up who are dismissing rap music in its entirety as “immature and ignorant”? Regardless of the music’s social value, why do the artists need to reel it in for the bigots’ sake? Wouldn’t a better solution be for bigotry to be done away with rather than popular music that may not necessarily inspire radical social change?

    Did you take even a second to consider the legibility of any of the writing in this article? Or were you too busy listening to every new wave rap song in existence, marking each one off as it failed to hit your criteria for socially or artistically significant work? Did anyone have the chance to tell you that run-on sentences make for bad writing, or were they drowned out by your nonsensical streams of thought, demonstrated in this piece? Can you not see how a sentence like “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” could be likened to a nauseating, literary roller-coaster ride? Can you argue it’s fair for someone to judge the quality of an artist’s lyrics when they can’t write a coherent news piece?

    As someone’s who’s produced their own rap, do you feel that your music exemplifies the kind of activism you’re demanding from these new wave rappers? Do you think you’re exempt from these standards for any reason? Could lines you write like “It’s a man’s world, but pussy makes it spin” (from “Next up”) or “Maybe ’cause the weather’s not nice enough to see her ass in a sundress anymore” (from “Uhh”) also be categorized as “concerning and harmful”? Do you think lyrics like “Tryna get my dick sucked by a stupid Asian/ (Yeah) She dim sum” from your song “Short Outro” are able to create the “serious change” you talk about? Are you honoring, or even showing basic respect to the work of “activists…. who have all been vital in the understanding of racism in America” when you put out lyrics like those? Can another “old school” fan (like myself, for instance), after doing their research by listening to your entire mixtape and reading your entire article, fairly claim your work is also garbage?

    I look forward to some answers.

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