Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rise of Conscious Rap

Ever since Grandmaster Flash's release of "The Message," rap has become progressively more conscious. More specifically, more and more rappers focus their lyrics on real-world issues such as politics and human rights issues. For example, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Nas, Tupac Shakur and many more crafted lyrics that would have a profound impact on listeners.

2pac (Changes) - I see no changes. All I see is racist faces.
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races we under.
I wonder what it takes to make this one better place...
let's erase the wasted.

Macklemore (Otherside) - Gone, get another bottle just to get a couple swallows
Headed towards the bottom couldn't get off it
Didn't even think he had a problem
Though he couldn't sleep without gettin' nauseous

Nas (Heaven) - Racist planet where they take another brother in a handcuff
Even if he innocent nigga get on the car put your motherfucking hands up
The real question is not why rappers have started to create conscious-rap, but why listeners all of the sudden are so enthralled with these types of lyrics.

In my personal opinion, the young generation of listeners today wants to feel like they're making a difference, whether or not they really are. Almost all of the blame for today's is on prior generations and it may be the inner-hipster in all of us that wants us to be as much the opposite of our parents as we can possibly can be. This could drive young listeners to want to be more worldly and conscious making them listen to this type of music.

Nevertheless, there is still a high demand for the gun-slinging, gang-bangin type of music, but it has seemed to slowly recess overtime. What does this mean for the future of music? It could signify a movement toward more lyrical and politically-aware music. I personally think this is a great thing for music. Young people learn nothing of value from listening to garbage about misogyny or killing people. Whether or not conscious rap leads people to take action, I think it's good for our generation.



Why do you think young listeners today want to listen to more conscious music?
Why has there been a rise in this type of music overtime?


  1. While there are always those occasions that call for a strong bass and a catchy dance beat, people also like to listen to music in order to gain something from the lyrics and to form a personal connection with the artist by listening to his/her message. Different types of music are necessary for different occasions, and I think this is one reason why people sometimes prefer to listen to conscious hip-hop. However, I also agree with Alec that the demand for conscious rap may also have to do with the fact that people want to feel like they’re making a difference and like they are listening to something worldly and significant. There are many people in older generations who claim that hip-hop is spoiling today’s youth with its constant themes of money, sex, and drugs. Young listeners may also be starting to listen to conscious hip-hop more as a response to these claims and to show people that hip-hop can be used to spread important messages as well.

  2. I think relativity is also a reason why conscious rap is becoming more popular. I believe people like to listen to things that they can relate to. They like to hear others rap about their struggles; it makes them feel as if somebody has noticed their problems and is trying to make them aware to the public. Conscious rap gives people a sense of hope, because they feel that the song is their method of telling the world what life is like on their neck of the woods. People who feel that their voices are not heard enjoy listening to people rap about similar issues they are confronted with on a daily basis, because it lets them know that they are being acknowledged and not ignored.

  3. The music industry, as well as most other things in this world, is constantly changing. I would like to entertain the fact that maybe conscious rap is only a phase that Hip-Hop is in right now because conscientiousness and meta-commentary is "in" right now. While I do enjoy both "gangster" rap and conscious rap, I am not quite sure conscious rap is here to stay (or gangster rap for that matter). There is a move toward more sophisticated rap subjects, but I'm really unsure as to what future generations will think. Here's hoping rap gets a better rep though, hip-hop could really use that.

    Here is an article for anyone who is interested, It's just an informal list of the top 11 Conscious Rappers:

  4. Much of the contemporary rap produced today does not come from artists that personify the drug dealing gangster rapper of the 90s. Without this theme, rap is trending towards conscious lyrics--there can be more meaning that relates to a more broad audience of listners in conscios rap versus ghetto rap. It is difficult for, for example, the students of this class to relate to "Brooklyn's Finest" by Jay-Z, however much more of the class could relate to "Otherside" by Macklemore. As a result of the ability to realte to a greater audience, rappers have began to produce more concious music--after all, it is a product that they are trying to sell to as many listners as possible.

  5. In response to Alec's original followup questions, I agree completely with Latia. It's the sense of relativity that makes the conscious music more appealing to the young generation. Some may argue that the stories created in the rap tracks are exaggerated, and can be very difficult to relate to. Nonetheless, listeners seem to be more cautious of lyrics here and there, grabbing on to any slight relation they can obtain from the song to make the entirety of the song have a strong connection to themselves. As a result, such music has risen overtime. The current music is grabbing at more and more topics that many can relate to. With this greater relation being attained within their lyrics, artists would continue on such a trend, especially because such a trend brings in more profit with greater interest attained (so in a way, I am also agreeing with Kelvin above.)

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  6. These artists that you refer to, aside from Macklemore, are all part of an older generation of rappers. Sure, their music is legendary, and will forever be remembered as influential rap, but the popular music of today is not conscious. While Nas and 2pac are still popular, they are no longer coming out with tracks that influence people to think differently about their lives. The Top 10 songs today for hip hop and rap no longer reflect the conscious sentiment that once was rap. As conscious Nas even suggests, "Hip Hop is Dead". Conscious rap isn't growing, if anything, it is slowly burning out while tracks about partying and egos run rampant in today's mainstream

  7. I believe that the young generation want to listen to more conscious music because it actually has a meaning. Sure, there are some occasions when I want to listen to a song about just partying and what not, but when a song actually has a message, it makes me think and I appreciate it much more. I also respect rappers who write conscious raps because it takes more skill to write about something that is actually meaningful in the world, display the events involved with it, give your own opinion of it, and then make the listener think about it and hopefully do something to change it.

    In regard to conscious rap being on the rise, I'm not quite sure if it really is. I mean, there are some artists now who write conscious raps, but there has also been a huge increase in songs just about partying, women, and violence. It may seem like there are more conscious raps now but the only reason it seems that way is because rap is a much larger industry. In comparison to other raps, I would say it has not grown. The percentage is probably still about the same as before.


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