Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Lack of Conscious Rap

It is kind of funny to see us talk about conscious rap so much where there is a big lack of that in today’s Music. According to billboard.com, the top seven Hip Hop songs are ‘Up’ by LoveRance, ‘Leave you Alone’ by Young Jeezy, ‘Another Round’ by Fat Joe, ‘Drank in my cup’ Kirko Bangz, ‘Cashin out’ by cashout, ‘Ayy Ladies’ by Travis Porter, and ‘The Motto’ by Drake; none of which are conscious rap songs. All of the songs today are mainly about money, sex and girls, and lack lyrical content.

The song "Dumb it Down" is one of the few examples of today’s Conscious rap. In the song, Lupe Fiasco is expressing the idea of dumbing down his music to make it more appealing to his audiences. He showed how uneducated black people listen to and enjoy music more when the songs are about money, cars and clothes, because they are not able to grasp more complicated themes. 

You going over niggas heads, Lu (Dumb it down!)ExplainThey telling me that they don't feel you (Dumb it down!)We ain't graduate from school, nigga (Dumb it down!)Them big words ain't cool, nigga (Dumb it down!)Yeah I heard "Mean and Vicious", nigga (Dumb it down!)Make a song for the bitches, nigga! (Dumb it down!)We don't care about the weather nigga (Dumb it down!)You'll sell more records if you (Dumb it down!)

He also expresses the persona of a racist white male.

You've been shedding too much light, Lu (Dumb it down!)You make'em wanna do right, Lu (Dumb it down!)They're gettin self-esteem, Lu (Dumb it down!)These girls are trying to be queens, Lu (Dumb it down!)They're trying to graduate from school, Lu (Dumb it down!)They're startin to think that smart is cool, Lu (Dumb it down!)They're trying to get up out the hood, Lu (Dumb it down!)I'll tell you what you should do (Dumb it down!)

Here Lupe uses a white male to represent “the man”. The Man is trying to tell Lupe to refrain from enlightening Black people so they can continue to be held down in society.  

Lupe shows two reasons why conscious rap is unsuccessful in “Dumb it Down”. Uneducated people are not able to understand it, and The Man is not able to deal with the advancement of black people. In my opinion, I think Lupe is right. More are more records that lack lyrical content are being sold today, while conscious rappers are overlooked in the music industry. Even conscious rappers have reverted to rapping about meaningless things, Kanye West, for example. I think we are becoming more tolerant of nonsense which is a possible cause for the lack of conscious rap. The fact that Up is number 3 on the billboard charts speaks volumes to this. 


  1. I definitely agree that most of the mainstream hip hop lyrical content is barely conscious. I believe that this is because hip hop is becoming increasingly materialistic and people can live vicariously through the artists/song. The taste of hip hop has also become more based upon the beat and flow, rather than words. Dumb it down would not play on a radio because the beat and flow is monotonous because the lyrics are what is important. Personally, I really dislike "Up" because not only are the lyrics superficial, the song is boring. Yet when the song came on at a 'social gathering' with friends and strangers, I found myself enjoying the song and singing the repetitive lyrics.

  2. At the end of this post, Tia says, “I think we are becoming more tolerant of nonsense which is a possible cause for the lack of conscious rap.” In my opinion, people tolerate this nonsense as a result of their own laziness. In “Dumb It Down,” Lupe Fiasco explains how he needs to dumb down his lyrics for the uneducated audiences who “ain’t graduate from school” and who think “big words ain’t cool.” While I definitely agree with this, I think that songs that “dumb it down” also appeal to educated audiences who are too lazy to focus on lyrics with meaning and who would rather mindlessly jam out to a nice beat. This is why, as Peter says in the above comment, “the taste of hip hop has also become more based upon the beat and flow, rather than the words.” Overall, I agree with the points that Lupe makes in “Dumb It Down,” and I believe that hip-hop artists should make more conscious songs rather than promoting laziness through meaningless lyrics that require no involvement from the listener.

  3. I also agree with the idea that the "beat and flow" of a song are starting to become more dominant than the lyrics themselves, and I feel like it may be masking the success of conscious rap. I also feel like hip-hop is meshing more and more as time goes on with the dance and club scene, which may be there reason that lyrics are becoming more neglected. For example, Lupe's song would not be a song you put on at a party to dance to (unless it some crazy remix), but a song like "Niggas in Paris," which displays Kanye and Jay-Z's form of "luxury rap," would be acceptable. With that, I also agree with Peter's statement that "hip hop is becoming increasingly materialistic and people [want to] live vicariously through the artists/song."

  4. I believe there is a major transition occurring in music in general: to be used at parties, dance clubs, or in general incorporate that repetitive bass line that keeps the listener in tuned with the beat. This is where I believe conscious hip hop would lose its impact most. As is discussed in Bradley's "Rap Poetry 101" (one of the Blackboard readings), there seems to be tradition of language being fitted into the music. Conscious hip hop would, in my opinion, strive to do the opposite: fit music into the language. I make this simple switch, but it is reflected in the greater importance being placed in language rather than the music for conscious hip hop.

    As far as the reverting of conscious rappers to talk about meaningless things, I think this is due to the artist's view of rap as a business. With this view sustained, they want to remain in fame, and this can be accomplished with the easiest way to attract listeners: a catchy beat. In conclusion, conscious rap will seem to have its struggle, but there will still be some artist that remains to talking of things of greater value to society. Once this concept can be fused with a good beat, maybe, just maybe, the public will start getting (back?) in tune with conscious rap.

  5. While I agree with you and Lupe that sometimes music has to be dumbed down in order to become mainstream and widely listened to, I don't think that necessarily means that it is better. While the "dumber-downed" rap definitely seems to become more popular in terms of chart rankings and being more widespread, it isn't the music that affects people.

    The rap songs that touch people, that they relate to, tends to be more of the conscious rap, I think conscious rap is what makes people connect to rap songs, their narrators, and the stories that they tell.

  6. Although it is easy to rap about money and fame, it takes a much more conscientious rapper to talk about issues such as poverty and discrimination on a level that many people can understand and relate to. It is also true that in today's world, catchy tunes and danceable music often sells much better than thought-provoking lyrics. Considering the fact that many times the only way to strike it rich after growing up in a ghetto is through sports or rap, I expect many new rappers to emerge that simply rap about how great they are and do not have much substance to their lyrics. Although many rappers will strike it rich this way, the best ones will always be the ones whose lyrics have deeper meanings. Catchy beats may sell in the short term, but that's better left to DJs, like Avicii and Tiesto, than to rappers in the long term. I remember when I was in seventh grade, "Laffy Taffy" by D4L and the songs "White Tee" and "Oh I Think They Like Me" by Dem Franchize Boyz were played at literally every Bar Mitzvah I attended. And at the time, we all loved those catchy beats that you could dance to. They even topped the iTunes charts at the time. However, when was the last time you've heard anything from either of those two groups.

  7. there is not enough check out this new ep its sounds like some good conscious rap to me.

    check them out there called Fool Blast from LA and Argentina.


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