Conscious rap is a sub-genre of hip-hop that focuses on creating awareness and imparting knowledge. Conscious rappers traditionally decry violence, discrimination, and other societal ailments. It’s propelled by the conviction that radical social change comes through knowledge of self and personal discovery.
When we think of conscious rap in context of the label, we think of Nas, Lupe Fiasco, De La Soul, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and similar artists of that mold. I realize nowadays that these artists are struggling to create relatable content to that age group. While half of that lies in the fact that the industry-machinated visions of materialism and redundancy has created a “dumbed down” snapshot of our world, the other half is that those artists are of an intellectual class that far surpasses those their music is truly meant to uplift.
Nas “Illmatic” is Hip Hop best and open awareness of Black America, lower class citizens and etc. but it was still open and out to the public and mainstream and Nas was heavily respected. He still is the same way with he last album “Nigger” even though he had to change the title, it still touched on a subject people was afraid to hear. One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Fried Chicken” Feat. Busta Rhymes using chicken as a metaphor of how urban American worship materialism things and killing themselves unawareness with their health. Nas still raps conscious and is consider as the greatest rapper of all time and yet he doesn’t sell as a Jay-Z or Lil Wayne.
Lupe Fiasco hands down the best lyricists of today’s generation “Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor” record touch me on so many personal levels, I was almost in tears listening to the album, it literally changed my life “Hurt Me Soul,” “He say, She Say” and The Cool just a classic, still listening to that record inspired me. Yet some people still don’t know who he is but they know Wacka Flocka. Is it that people just want to dance around like some hoodlums and don’t want to hear the truth?
Some rappers just left their conscious roots becuase it doesn’t sell, Common “Finding Forever” is common best album in years and then he switched his style up with the “Universal Mind Control” an whole party album which was good, just not Common Sense, Kanye West has merged the two. I feel all his songs from College Dropout to 808. West does so no one can really catch it kinda subliminally. When it comes to his album he puts his all into and becuase it’s so flashy and with iconic lines it sells but why is he the only one that sells like that.
The label of “conscious rap,” in many ways has devolved into an elitist tool to divide and reward/punish. The phenomenon that stems from that is that we reward those artists who think of social justice on a highly intellectual level, but neglect, or even punish, the thoughts of artists who find themselves rapping about the violent sub-culture that penetrates our inner cities everyday. NWA(first album) , Tupac and Biggie in a way are conscious rappers they gave you awareness of their society and opened up and put their soul on a track, but Jay-Z said it himself he wanted to rap like Common Sense but he did a mil he ain’t want to rap like common since, so with that said is we the consumers killing conscious rap?
With Downloading and stuff it’s a given but a prime example is Drake, 06 “Room For Improvement” is a instant classic in my eyes “Bad Meaning Good” and “Make Thing Right” are deep thoughts of the life of Canada form this MC, but people diss it said he sound like a chick or it’s weak, he’s a nobody, his second mixtape “Comeback Season” hits and another classic mixtape with “Think Good Thoughts” how people assumptions of a rappers lifestyle and “Closer” deep track on becoming a rap star. The critics like it but it was no different than his first mixtape, just had more flash and other conscious rappers like Little Brother aand Slum Village featured on the mixtape. People still diss it but “So Far Gone” which sounds like an traditional commercial album blew up like that.
When he was rapping about something no one cares, but once he linked with Wanye and talked about the best he ever had everyone listen, so we can’t blame him for us being brain washed. Lil Wayne hottest guy in the game, raps about nothing at most and sells like crazy and get’s praises, so it is us that is taking away good content in music. Lupe said it on his “Enemy Of The State” mixtape ” Could not move them with the brain, so I had to use some bling,” meaning his deep rhymes, no one was listening to but once he put some flash to it (hint bling) everyone is tuning in.
It comes down to us the buyer, do we need to reevaluate ourselves as whats considered good music Wacka Flocka screaming drug dealing music or Mos Def talking History. Are we afriad to think? If you can buy a Gucci Mane album whats really stopping you from picking up a Mos Def album?