Politics and Hip-Hop

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Music is an art form and source of power. Many forms of music reflect culture and society, as well as, containing political content and social message. Music as social change has been highlighted throughout the 20th century. In the 1960s the United States saw political and socially oriented folk music discussing the Vietnam War and other social issues. In Jamaica during the 1970s and 1980s reggae developed out of the Ghetto’s of Trench town and expressed the social unrest of the poor and the need to over-through the oppressors. The 1980’s brought the newest development in social and political music, the emergence of hip-hop and rap. This urban musical art form that was developed in New York City has now taken over the mainstream, but originated as an empowering art form for urban youth and emerging working class. Hip-Hop is a highly influential gem that inspired numerous rappers to address social and political subjects. In today’s time, even though gangster rap is taking over; there are still some artists who have a lot of angrily sociopolitical lyrics and sometimes performed them by acting them out. It was in the early '70s that Gil Scott-Heron (who is primarily a jazz-influenced soul singer) experimented with pre-hip-hop rapping on sociopolitical scorchers like "Whitey on the Moon" and "No Knock" (which lambasted the FBI for going after the Black Panthers). Scott-Heron's best known song from that period is "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (which modern rappers, such as Rick Ross expressed in his newly released song, Tears of Joy); some have described that classic as early rap, although it's really spoken word. "Whitey on the Moon" and "No Knock," however, are closer to what came to be called rap -- and there are certainly parallels between those tunes and the militant recordings that Public Enemy started providing about 17 years later.  Hip hop has permeated popular culture in an unprecedented fashion. Because of its crossover appeal, it is a great...
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