What is Political Rap?

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Hip Hop Genres
Tags: , , ,

Political RapWhen someone mentions politics, most people normally think of a politician shouting rhetoric from a podium about a divisive topic. People think of democrats and republicans and their different views on issues. However, politics are not something that only politicians can weigh in on. While most mainstream music steers clear of any controversial issues, many artists aren’t afraid to voice their opinion. One such assemblage are rappers that identify with the genre of political hip hop. Below, we’ll explore political rap more in depth by digging into some definitions, examining a bit of the history, and going over some example artists and songs that fit into this genre.

Let’s first break down the actual words of this genre. Politics are defined as “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.” Based on this definition, political hip hop, or more specifically, political rap, would be defined as rap music which focuses on the actions and policies of the government. Wikia states that political rap “refers to artists who have strong and overt political affiliations and agendas”, and states that several sub-genres would include socialist hip hop, anarchism, conservatism, and marxism, among others.

According to Allmusic.com, political rap formed in the 1980’s when a number of rappers were “looking to move on from the block-party atmosphere of old school rap and eager to vent their frustrations…” Several hip hop groups emerged which fused their talented rhymes with strong political philosophies. Groups such as Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions produced songs which addressed governmental corruption, the culture of White America, violence, and myriad of other socio-political issues. Interestingly, Allmusic.com points out, the mainstream success of political rap “proved remarkably short-lived” as “the commercial explosion of a new hip-hop sound — gangsta rap or G-funk — made record labels less adventurous about non-establishment messages.”

Example Artists:
Some of the most well known political rappers and rap groups include: Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Poor Righteous Teachers, Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, Mos Def, The Coup, X-Clan, and Dead Prez.

Conscious Hip Hop Playlist:

We hope this gives you a good introduction into political hip hop. To further your understanding, we suggest listening to the songs/artists mentioned in the blog post, reading other articles, and investigating politics for yourself to better understand the issues these rappers are spitting about. Have any thoughts to share? Any songs or artists that you feel we missed? Leave a comment below!

If you are digging the political rap and want to hear some other rap songs that touch on some deep topics check out this playlist of Spiritual Rap: 10 Hip Hop Songs that Explore Religion, God, and Spirituality. CLICK HERE to check it out!


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