Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Conscious Everything

There has been much discussion on the popularity of conscious rap. Some people believe that it has been on the rise while others believe the opposite.  Here I would just like to highlight two recent songs that fall into the conscious category from artists that are very successful nowadays.  

The first song off B.O.B's new album, "Bombs away", begins with an, as always, epic and majestic Morgan Freeman narration, talking about the duality of human nature and of society. The comparison between dark and light and good and evil are themes throughout the album, as well as a social commentary.  

"But if anything, what you finna see is a change, don't be alarmed
And whoever they are, well I think that it's time we start takin' charge
Fuck rules, fuck boss
You can be whatever you want"

"Two middle fingers straight at the law
Sincerely yours, for petty your lord
Cause this is a war, ain't talkin' 'bout bullets and swords"

With a "fuck the system" type attitude, B.O.B could be commenting on the social injustices that the black community has faced throughout time and instead of fighting back with violence, he talks about a verbal approach to making a change.  The spread of words and ideas can sometimes be more powerful that actual action itself.  Another song that stresses the need for social equality is "All black everything" by Lupe.

"Hip-hop ain't got a section called conscious
Everybody rappin like crack never happened
Crips never occurred nor bloods to attack them
Matter of fact no hood to attack in"

Lupe creates a fictional reality where everyone was equal and there was no enslavement or violence. There would be no section of "conscious hip hop" because the disparities and struggles that it spawns from, wouldn't be there. Lupe goes on to say that the gangs that populated the hoods would never have formed and started to provoke violence within the black communities. Additionally, there would be no rise of gangster rap because without the difficulties of living in the ghettos, the artists would have no material to reference.  

Both these songs show that conscious hip hop can delve into the mainstream realm, even if it doesn't receive as much attention as more materialistic and "gangster" songs.  Does conscious hip hop lose its meaning if it's using the system with a message to go against it?


  1. In the earlier post about Common's song "I Used To Love H.E.R.," it describes, in the form of a conscious rap through an extended metaphor, how hip-hop and changed and become highly commercialized. And to address the question, if I'm understanding correctly, that if conscious rappers are using the system they are going against in their songs, does it demean the message -- I say no. Like I mentioned in the comment on the post about Common, I feel that for art to get greatly recognized, it must contain contradiction and implications. The hypocrisy of rappers using the music business to talk bad about the music business further exposes the problem. I think that if there is to be change in hip-hop, it would not come from those outside of the business, because it could be argued that maybe they don't understand what they are arguing because they aren't really involved. However, artists like Lupe are venturing deep into the heart of the problem to expose its flaws.

  2. I agree with Nick above: I don't believe that conscious hip hop loses its meaning it it's using the system with a message to go against it. I feel it's the most direct way to address the subject without diving into metaphors and symbols that people would have to further research in order to attain the meaning. This is a brave path to take, as it is putting the subject right in the listener's ears without any coverage, relaying a blunt message for the listener to then create an opinion of themselves. Thus, more discussions would occur, given that this is a popular vessel in which to relay such messages to the audience. Whether it loses its popularity with the crowd is not important. Once a single person starts to discuss the subject with relation to the song, it will become known as a primary source in which people will relate to in the future, as discussions further with more widespread interest. But I may be talking to optimistically on the subject. What do you guys think?


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