The Bold & Brave Amongst the Elite
The Bold & Brave Amongst the Elite by Kalyn Kearney
Who said that you couldn’t rap about the social issues that are affecting the black community. Everyday there is a new artist or just an artist in general who has decided to speak up on injustices that are being ignored. The music industry provides a platform to voice your opinion and discuss topics that many people may not have the social access to do. A sad reality about this is that it takes for a celebrity to speak up in order for people to take heed what is happening around them. Taking it one step further than just using the platform they earned strictly for entertainment but for enlightenment. Removing the blinds from those who were steered down the plan of confusion.
Social consciousness has been apart of the hip-hop culture since the beginning. Which proves that injustices in the black community have been a pressing issue for years. Artist in the industry usually try to avoid topics like politics or racial drama of fear of what their fans may say. But over the past 3-4 years there has been an increase in social awareness. The term “woke” usually comes to mind when discussing black voices speaking up. For those who may not be familiar with the term, woke means being aware of current events. Understanding what is happening in the surrounding communities, worldwide and in the media. Then, the next step would be to use the knowledge gained to try and better those who are being affected.
Meek Mills approach is geared towards inequality within the justice system, and inspiring those in the hood to level up. Opening the eyes of the youth to the reality that there is more to life than selling drugs, buying material items and getting caught up in a system that will swallow you whole. Meek’s music reflects the harsh realities people of color face in the ghetto. Lifting the veil on the pressures circled throughout troubled neighborhoods. Taking a step into the world of “Young Black America” challenging the youth to think about their actions and the consequences that come with them. Encouraging alternate paths out of the hood, rather than rapping & basketball.
Kendrick Lamar is another artist who uses his platform for more than simply entertainment. His MO is to avoid the media spotlight letting his music do the talking for him. In an interview Lamar told the host of Apple Beats 1 radio station his album, ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, reflected on the thought of changing the world and how to go about it. His latest album ‘DAMN’ is the realization that in order to change the world one has to first look within themselves. The song “XXX” explores the theory that America is not the “white America” it is trying to publicize. Unpacking the militarism and systemic racism that plagues the United States.
J Cole is someone who has never been the type to conform to the trends of his surroundings. Not only has he used his career to send a meaningful message, but even his visuals such as videos or concerts. Cole’s one song “Neighbors” proves that no matter your status or achievements … by the words of Jay-Z “ still n***a”. His rented out house in North Carolina was raided by SWAT because it was assumed he was selling drugs.
Why is it that when a person of color is seen with expensive possessions or moving into a suburban neighborhood it is assumed that they did not get it from their own success?
“Police see I got my hands up/Still wanna kill me, they don’t understand us/They be looking for a reason just to shoot me/And wanna do me like they do us in the movies.” T.I rapped this on his 2016 album titled Us or Them: Letter to the System. While reading an article by XXL Magazine featuring T.I. he made some great points about the hip-hop culture. Hip-hop has always been a reflection of the environment an artist came from but what does that really mean? If there is to be a shift in the content of music then we must change the surroundings that has shaped not only the artist but their music as well.
Hip-hop tells a story of living in a world where the odds are against them. Fighting a system that in the end seems to come out on top. It is time to shift the perspective of power and superiority.