Socially Conscious Rap Joints by Tomisin Akins
Socially conscious rap or sometimes referred to as Political Rap is a style/sub-genre of hip hop characterized by content that addresses society issues and calls for political and/or social action.
Conscious Rap is characterized more by the songs than the artists. Most rappers do not limit themselves to only making “conscious” music. Also, many artists that primarily do not make conscious music may come out with a conscious song. Due to this the label of “conscious rapper” is often rejected by artists. Themes include: Anti-racism, black liberation, nationalism, anti-poverty, class struggle, socialism, feminism and views on religion.
Here is a list of my favourite socially conscious rap joints:
“U.N.I.T.Y.” by Queen Latifah
American singer, songwriter, rapper, and record producer, Queen Latifah is speaking out for the ladies with her socially conscious hit U.N.I.T.Y. Angered by the harsh language often directed at women, Queen Latifah condemns the use of terms like “bitch” and “ho”, to refer to women, and encourages the women of the world to stand up for their dignity.
“Sound of da Police” by KRS-One
American rapper and producer KRS-One is a staple in the genre of socially conscious hip hop. In his track “Sound of da Police”, KRS-One explores police brutality, specifically directed to urban black youth, and draws connections between police brutality and the horrors of slavery, juxtaposing police officers and slave plantation overseers.
"Changes" by 2Pac 2Pac, the most respected rapper in the game, was also spiritually woke. Though he was raised in believing in God, he told Vibe, “Heaven is now. Karma is real.” When asked where he saw himself in 20 years, he said, “Changing the world.”
“Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill "Doo Wop (That Thing)" was her rap-soul call to the girls, promoting self-respect and personal ethics in the face of objectification.
"Alright" by Kendrick Lamar Since its release in 2015, Kendrick Lamar's “Alright” has become an important protest song in the Black Lives Matter movement. Lamar described "Alright" as message of hope, the motif is optimistic and universal, but the message is driven by specific pain and struggle.
"Get By" by Talib Kweli “Get By” is one of Talib Kweli’s most notable songs in his entire discography. The song focuses on the lives and struggles of low income people from a wide range of cultural and racial backgrounds living in and around NYC.
"Smile" by Jay Z (feat Gloria Carter) on Jay Z’s most personal album, ‘Smile’ sees the Brooklyn MC getting introspective as he reflects on his troubled past and how it shaped who he is today. The track also serves as a “coming out” of sorts for his mother – Gloria Carter – who appears on a spoken-word outro for the track.
"Daughters" by Nas Nas reminds his “brothers with daughters” that a little girl’s father is her first relationship with a man. ‘Daughters’ truly reveals the genius of Queens Bridge’s greatest scribe.