Top 10 of Political / Conscious Rap
My choice for the 10 best political / conscious rap songs.
What’s your top 10? Got other songs to recommend? Let me know – jump in using the comments section below.
10. Tupac Shakur – Changes
No introduction needed – Tupac at his very best. Seriously, this song even made it to the Myspace playlist of the Vatican church.
9. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message
The godfather of political/consious rap, this song practically kicked off the entire genre. Its list of accolades is virtually endless, including first hip-hop record ever added to the United States National Archive of Historic Recordings, #51 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, #5 on RS’s list of greatest rap songs ever, and on and on and on.
8. The Legendary K.O. – George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People
Inspired by Kanye West’s comment about the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina (for which he actually later apologized), this rap song also features an equally stunning music video by Franklin Lopez of Submedia.
7. Eminem – Mosh
Eminem’s call to the American people to come out and vote in the 2004 Kerry-Bush elections. There’s also another version of the music video, released after the election and featuring an alternate ending. For another politically charged, originally animated music video by Eminem, check out White America.
6. Public Enemy – Fight The Power
Possibly the most famous political rap song of all time, “Fight the Power” remains a landmark song to this day, and was featured in a film that was no less of a landmark social statement in itself: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”. A second music video for this song also exists, with Rosie Perez dancing her ass off through the film’s opening credits.
5. Black Star – Definition
How can you beat this? Impeccable flow, social jabs, and perfect rapidfire beats from the elite rap duo Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli).
4. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
Kanye’s moving call of inspiration and support to struggling souls everywhere. This song actually has two videos: here’s the second one.
3. Paris – The Devil Made Me Do It
This debut music video by Paris, one of the most politically radical emcees in hip-hop history, was banned by MTV in 1990. Affiliated at different points with the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, Paris has in recent years turned his social-political criticism towards less controversial channels, including using his degree in economics, and experience as a successful stockbroker, to create these guidelines for financial responsibility.
2. Arrested Development – Mr. Wendal
Waaaay back at the other end of the spectrum from Paris’s militant hip-hop, Arrested Development’s laid-back, chill style incorporated a very different brand of social commentary into their music. This song brings out the plight of the homeless (some of the band’s performances in the 90′s featured homeless people on stage).
1. Common – The People
One of the most important emcees in the history of political / conscious rap, Common flows in this tribute to the people, filmed on the streets of his hometown Chicago.