Conscious Hip Hop Still Here
More often than not, we get the occasional talk show hosts and news correspondents ignoring the uplifting advocacy of Hip Hop and it irks me. If they would stop copying their competition for silly gossip, they would probably recognize the tone Hip Hop is taking, especially today. Artist, it seems, are very concerned with the heavy amount antagonism that comes with the bare minimum of success. Getting over these obstacles moves such artists as Lupe Fiasco and Jay-Z to retell their stories. What these stories do however is create a network that supports the lives of their audiences. Let’s take a look at a few songs.
Instead of distancing his educated self from nihilism—a situation in the Black community, among others, in which racism and low economic status make folks give up on living a better life than one of crime and violence—Lupe Fiasco speaks as a victim of nihilism in his song “The Show Goes On.” My mans from the “GO!” (Chicago for those that don’t know) sets the record straight: that the mistakenly condescending teacher, the astray overseer of a police officer, those folks “that hope you slip up off yo path/” only ask that your show be more extravagant. Life is nothing but that long walk backstage before your show, that project for which “when times is hard you stand up/”. Lupe makes Hip Hop with the intentions to counsel the surrendering soul; not even Atlantic records could commercialize such a powerful spirit. So as his audience, the object of his unconditional love, we have to not disrespect his struggle to make liberation music. With that being said, I don’t want to lay out all the crucial lyrics this revolutionary of Chicago provides, that’s your responsibility and I dare you to listen. But I will leave you with his main point: “Already the show goes on/ All night, til the morning we dream so long/ Anybody ever wonder when they will see the sun up/Just remember when you come up the show goes on/” Success is inevitable as long as we don’t give into the ill will of people against our success in the first place.
Going east coast, Jay-Z also has a problem with people getting in the way of someone else’s project. On his Blueprint 3 albums there’s a hot collaboration with Pharrell called “So Ambitious”. Chorus jumps the track off with a swank aura: “The motivation for me/is them telling me what I could not be/” The theme of haters in Hip Hop is intimately tied with unfortunate manner of social relations. Emcees like Jay-Z, Lupe, and Pharrell only state the necessary, since nowadays motivation takes a back seat to negativity. We live in a world that emphasizes the enemies against rather than the allies behind us. Just like Lupe tells us how he ignored threats and put his feet on desks, Jay-Z tells you straight up that there’s nothing more tragic than no motivation. “The world don’t like us, is that not clear?/ Alright but, I’m different/ I can’t face what I’m gone be off of what everybody isn’t/They don’t listen/ Just whisperin/Behind my back/ No vision, lack of ambition, so wack/” Even if Jay and Pharrell do not issue direct orders, their compulsion to tell their stories offers some guidance to those listening. Although the desire to use hatred as an obstacle is prevalent in the way we interact with each other, Jigga’s whole point is that it doesn’t have to affect ambition. Want for change is enough.
Often I turn to music when I have issues and I’m sure that other people do also. So when we evaluate the music of Hip Hop it gets sloppy when we don’t pay homage to such songs as these. A true Hip Hop fan ought to cast a sorry look on a person that’s convinced that Hip Hop music only talks about guns and violence. Pass this list along to our ignorant brothers and sisters.
- “Champion”-Kanye West
- “Commencement Day”-Blue Scholars
- “Dear God”-The Roots
- “Doo Wop”-Lauryn Hill
- “Dreams”-J. Cole
- “Eternal Sunshine”-Jay Electronica
- “Exhibit A”-Jay Electronica
- “Good Life”-Blu & Exile
- “Hate It Or Love It”-The Game
- “Hell Yeah”-Dead Prez
- “He Say She Say”-Lupe Fiasco
- “How I Got Over”-The Roots
- “I Can”-Nas
- “I Get Up”-Jay Cole
- “I’m Beamin’”-Lupe Fiasco
- “Lights Please”-J. Cole
- “My World Is…”-Blu & Exile
- “The People”-Common
- “Retrospect for Life”-Common
- “Samura’s Optic”-CYNE
- “Shoot Me Down”-Lil Wayne
- “Slow Down”-Chiddy Bang
- “Strong Will Continue”-Damian Marley and Nas
- “Thieves in the Night”-Mos Def and Talib Kweli
- “This Way”-Dilated Peoples
- “Two Words”-Kanye West/Mos Def/Freeway
- “What’s Beef”-Mos Def and Talib Kweli