New York City rapper Nas stirred up controversy in the hip-hop community when he announced in 2006 the name of his next album: Hip Hop is Dead. What he meant was hip-hop had lost its political voice and was no longer being used as a tool for achieving social change.
In some regards, Nas was right. Hip Hop has justifiably earned an infamous reputation for its glorification of violence, misogyny, sex, money and drugs. But those weren’t the ideals of hip hop’s pioneers. As seen by what is regarded as the first socially conscious hit rap song, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s 1982 smash “The Message,” hip-hop began as an outlet for young, disenfranchised African Americans to express their frustrations and sorrow of their seemingly hopeless situation. Today, there are plenty of artists who continue to use the genre as a way to reflect on their personal narrative and create positive change.
This blog is dedicated to those artists who view hip-hop as more than a path to riches and fame. They understand the history of the genre and are inclined to uphold its integrity. Though many might agree with Nas that the days of hip-hop as as a powerful First Amendment platform are long gone, rappers have not altogether abandoned the values and principles of what the genre was intended to reflect.
Learn more about the fall and rise of socially conscious rap here.