Powerful Political Hip Hop Songs
As we know, election season is upon us and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their second debate in the books. As Americans, we are familiar with politicians trying to win the hearts and the votes of the people, with promises of bettering the communities across the nation. Since its start, Hip Hop has been the voice of the people. Lyrically protesting against the injustice and sometimes proposing ideas for the betterment of the community, the culture has served as a vehicle of expressing the struggle that communities face on a day to day basis. Artists over the years have made powerful songs relating to political issues; songs that will always remain relevant. Here is a list of some of the most powerful political Hip Hop songs (not set in stone of course) over the years. Check out the list below and feel free to comment.
Black Star was a rap duo group that consisted of Brooklyn MC’s, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. The duo released Definition in May of 1998 off of their Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star album. The lyrics shined light on police brutality and inequality which caused the single to make it on the Billboard Hot 100.
Public Enemy – Fight The Power
Initially released in 1989, the single became a perfect explanation of the political frustration most Black communities were experiencing in New York. The then emerging film director, Spike Lee used the politically charged song for the soundtrack of his cult classic, Do the Right Thing.
Talib Kweli – Get By
Releasing arguably his most popular solo single in 2003, the Kanye West produced track samples Nina Simone’s classic, Sinnersman. Kweli’s inspirational single gives hope to people within inner cities whose day to day routine reflects a continuous grind to make ends meet.
My President Is Black – Young Jeezy
My President is the fourth single from the rappers third studio album, The Recession. It was released in 2008, the year Barack Obama won his first term as President Of The United States. The title of the song alone gives us insight on the remarkable feeling Black communities had across the nation when Barack Obama became the democratic nominee for the 2008 election year. The track stayed in rotation on radio stations even after Obama won the Presidential campaign.
Kendrick Lamar – Alright
Released in 2015, Kendrick’s message of Alright birthed in the midst of the past horrific police brutalities against Black and Brown communities across the nation. Alright is the fourth single off of Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly album. On the track, Kendrick lets us know that despite the hate, as a people “we gon be alright”.
Vince Staples – Hands Up
The west coast rapper released Hands Up in 2014. Staples discuss the disgust he has with the nation and the killings of Black and Brown people and with that; he refuses the right to be silent.
Jadakiss ft Anthony Hamilton – Why
In 2004, Jadakiss dropped his second album Kiss of Death in which Why was the first single released. Jadakiss yearns for answers while asking questions pertaining to the government’s true motives in the judicial system and their role in 9/11. Anthony helps bring out that concern while asking continuously “why they gotta do me like that?”
Tupac – Changes
The posthumously released track was released in 1998 and it is one of Tupac’s notable songs. The lyrical discussion of police brutality, poverty, and the war on drugs served as a vehicle to express the environment Tupac was raised in. Changes was nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for Best Rap Solo Performance. The song remains the only posthumous song to be nominated for a Grammy in that category.
Nas – Nigger
Released in 2008, the controversial song stirred up a lot of confusion and criticism. In the song, Nas relates to the streets and informs them on the politics that is going on around them. The controversial song stirred up a lot of confusion and criticism based off of its title “Nigger”. According to an interview Nas did with MTV, the meaning behind the title is to take back the power that was used against Black people in America.
J Cole – Be Free
The powerful song was released in the same year that 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. On the track, J. Cole is singing about the lack of freedom Black people have in this country, hence why the MC sings “be free” in a heartfelt manner throughout the song. J. Cole also uses a sound bite from Dorian Johnson, Michael Brown’s friend and a witness to the shooting.
NWA – F**k The Police
The west coast group became famously known for its brazen lyrics and boldness to rap about police brutality and racial profiling. Released in 1988, F**k The Police became one of NWA’s signature songs because it served as a voice for Black and Brown communities. The song also received a lot of backlash, because some believed that it was “demeaning” to the police force.
Lil Wayne – Georgia… Bush
The New Orleans MC released the song in 2006; a year after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the rapper’s hometown. The single was released off of Wayne’s Dedication 2 mixtape. Weezy lets his frustration out and calls out former president George W. Bush for neglecting the seriousness of Hurricane Katrina and the people who were victims of the natural disaster.