Home It?s more than gold, guns and girls

It?s more than gold, guns and girls

by admin October 26, 2010

It?s more than gold, guns and girls

by admin October 26, 2010

This article has been updated from its original printed version.
Hip hop used to be a sacred form of art that spread the message of revolution. The so-called “Golden Age” of hip hop is associated with the late “80s and early “90s.

This was a time that saw bands like The Goats and Public Enemy light up the stages and more importantly, peoples interest with social, political and cultural messages. Their music spoke to the underprivileged members of society, and their messages were spread around the world.

Yet, the social impact of hip hop seems to be waning more every year. The breakout artists of

mainstream media have less to say about social issues by the minute and consequently, political hip hop has taken refuge in the underground.

Even though the “Golden Age” of hip hop may be over, many artists continue to bring their cultural messages to listeners. Mostly restricted to smaller venues, a plethora of politically charged artists are representing their cause to a diminishing, but active crowd.

“One voice alone is asking for trouble, but one voice with a large following of believers is impossible to break, ” said Orion Revolution Curiel, a solo rapper, former member of hip-hop group Shades Of Culture and host of the Off The Hook radio program on CKUT. Yet from Montreal artist The Narcicyst to Iranian artist Shahin Najafi, political hip hop now resides in the underground music culture.

Montreal artist Penzo Gritty described the reasons why he believes political hip hop no longer makes it into the mainstream music scene: “Commercial artists won’t touch the subject because radio programmers won’t allow or play that kind of content, thus the expression “don’t rock the boat.’ The commercial customer of music is highly unlikely to purchase this content so it comes down to making the people happy or selling units, and we know what wins out.”

Artists like KRS ONE and Dead Prez had moderate success a decade ago, when listeners of mainstream hip hop were more receptive to music that sent a political message to their listeners. The ideologies put forth in their music have lost influence in recent years, as a large portion of their audiences have moved on to prefer the breakout artists of today’s mainstream hip-hop scene.

“[Underground] artists like Paris and KRS ONE are overlooked because they don’t market themselves to the video-watching youth,” explained Curiel. “Instead, they continue to preach from their proverbial “soapboxes’ […] and are still active [and] prevalent street politicians.” This is the overwhelming issue at hand for political hip hop. The artists are there, ever struggling for a dwindling crowd.

From the socialist mentality of Dead Prez, to The Coup’s Marxist ideologies or the anarchist policies of Comrade Malone, hip hop can address many realms of sociopolitical issues. Unfortunately, these are not being incorporated into mainstream hip-hop music, thus excluding a large audience from being exposed to such possibilities within the genre. It seems to have lost the revolutionary feel that once dominated hip-hop culture. Groups within society are still oppressed, hurting and exploited, yet few mainstream artists are choosing to give a voice to the voiceless.

The fabled Tupac Shakur has sold 75 million records worldwide and was a social activist who tried, and arguably succeeded in propagating social change through his music. So although we may not see any examples in the mainstream music scene of today, Tupac’s case proves that a time existed where hip-hop artists could preach social, political and cultural messages while making money in the process.

As newer generations come to appreciate music, society has to remember that music can

be a form of protest. It can expose societal ills and subsequently uncover how to change them. Music doesn’t need to be a simple tune to dance to. It can be an expression of cultural, social and political unrest. It can and should make you think and ask questions.

“Political music of any kind is terribly important to society since it’s one of the remaining

voices that young people have,” Curiel asserted. “[It is] a way to truly express your feelings and beliefs, even only as a listener. It keeps the sharp-minded sharp.”

See Dead Prez live in Montreal when they play at Foufounes Electriques on October 27.

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This article has been updated from its original printed version.
Hip hop used to be a sacred form of art that spread the message of revolution. The so-called “Golden Age” of hip hop is associated with the late “80s and early “90s.

This was a time that saw bands like The Goats and Public Enemy light up the stages and more importantly, peoples interest with social, political and cultural messages. Their music spoke to the underprivileged members of society, and their messages were spread around the world.

Yet, the social impact of hip hop seems to be waning more every year. The breakout artists of

mainstream media have less to say about social issues by the minute and consequently, political hip hop has taken refuge in the underground.

Even though the “Golden Age” of hip hop may be over, many artists continue to bring their cultural messages to listeners. Mostly restricted to smaller venues, a plethora of politically charged artists are representing their cause to a diminishing, but active crowd.

“One voice alone is asking for trouble, but one voice with a large following of believers is impossible to break, ” said Orion Revolution Curiel, a solo rapper, former member of hip-hop group Shades Of Culture and host of the Off The Hook radio program on CKUT. Yet from Montreal artist The Narcicyst to Iranian artist Shahin Najafi, political hip hop now resides in the underground music culture.

Montreal artist Penzo Gritty described the reasons why he believes political hip hop no longer makes it into the mainstream music scene: “Commercial artists won’t touch the subject because radio programmers won’t allow or play that kind of content, thus the expression “don’t rock the boat.’ The commercial customer of music is highly unlikely to purchase this content so it comes down to making the people happy or selling units, and we know what wins out.”

Artists like KRS ONE and Dead Prez had moderate success a decade ago, when listeners of mainstream hip hop were more receptive to music that sent a political message to their listeners. The ideologies put forth in their music have lost influence in recent years, as a large portion of their audiences have moved on to prefer the breakout artists of today’s mainstream hip-hop scene.

“[Underground] artists like Paris and KRS ONE are overlooked because they don’t market themselves to the video-watching youth,” explained Curiel. “Instead, they continue to preach from their proverbial “soapboxes’ […] and are still active [and] prevalent street politicians.” This is the overwhelming issue at hand for political hip hop. The artists are there, ever struggling for a dwindling crowd.

From the socialist mentality of Dead Prez, to The Coup’s Marxist ideologies or the anarchist policies of Comrade Malone, hip hop can address many realms of sociopolitical issues. Unfortunately, these are not being incorporated into mainstream hip-hop music, thus excluding a large audience from being exposed to such possibilities within the genre. It seems to have lost the revolutionary feel that once dominated hip-hop culture. Groups within society are still oppressed, hurting and exploited, yet few mainstream artists are choosing to give a voice to the voiceless.

The fabled Tupac Shakur has sold 75 million records worldwide and was a social activist who tried, and arguably succeeded in propagating social change through his music. So although we may not see any examples in the mainstream music scene of today, Tupac’s case proves that a time existed where hip-hop artists could preach social, political and cultural messages while making money in the process.

As newer generations come to appreciate music, society has to remember that music can

be a form of protest. It can expose societal ills and subsequently uncover how to change them. Music doesn’t need to be a simple tune to dance to. It can be an expression of cultural, social and political unrest. It can and should make you think and ask questions.

“Political music of any kind is terribly important to society since it’s one of the remaining

voices that young people have,” Curiel asserted. “[It is] a way to truly express your feelings and beliefs, even only as a listener. It keeps the sharp-minded sharp.”

See Dead Prez live in Montreal when they play at Foufounes Electriques on October 27.

Leave a Comment