Rappers are some of the most politically minded lyricists in the music industry. Some even go on to advocate in more concrete ways. Check out this list of rappers who used their voices to be advocates.
Hip Hop Artists Who Took a Stand
Love them or hate them, Ye’s comments during a donation-drive for the devastatingly awful Hurricane Katrina were the beginning of a string of boisterous incidents in the public eye. There has since been some sincere political discourse surrounding the incident, and Michael Myers has spoken positively about Ye in his own reflections on the event. Ye’s controversy is often rooted in personal pain and tragedy, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t got a point.
2. Yasiin Bey
The hip-hop artist formerly known as Mos Def has always been an activist in his lyricism. For example, his song “Mathematics” critiques the inevitability of injustice for certain ethnic groups in the western world. Taking it a step further, Bey “volunteered” to be involved in an experiment, which was organized and documented by The Guardian. Bey was force-fed in the exact same manner as the hunger-striking inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Bey stops the procedure and is visibly shaken by it.
There are some valid comparisons to be made between the United States’ response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the global AIDs crisis. Salt-N-Pepa were worried enough about young people becoming exposed to HIV in 1993 that they dedicated precious album time to addressing the issue. The rap duo enlisted the help of youthful actors to pretend to have one of the most difficult discussions a couple can have (at age).
DAX knows that he might have a louder voice, but also that he isn’t the only one who has thoughts to express. “Everybody has a voice!” But they all aren’t nearly as polished as this stylish rapper’s.
Another rapper with a long history of making music with an activist’s spirit. Common collaborated with Ava DuVernay on her film 13th. The United States, ironically, does not yet have an established history of racial justice. That’s why Common continues to assert, “we are rewriting the Black American story!”
6. “FDT” YG
In the context of all of American history, most rappers are lil’ angels. “I like White folks, but I don’t like you!” Again considering the rest of the story, that’s being generous.
This song won a Grammy. Queen Latifah knew she had to pioneer it when she said, “who you callin’ a b*tch?” in ‘93. According to genius.com, calling women such derogatory slurs “was a new trend that, unfortunately, is still pervasive in rap today.”
Should hip-hop artists be held to a higher social standard? Do you think celebrities could do more to advocate on behalf of topics they are passionate about? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!
Personally, I do not think we should shift the responsibility over to just celebrities in terms of speaking out. Each of us has a voice. Each of us could also be speaking out against things that maintain the current social order. How bad does it have to get for people to do more than just “speak out”? It’s long overdue that we as a human race make EMPATHY fashionable and therefore come together to treat our others the way we would want to be treated.