Writing about World Music

Davidson College, Fall 2015

Rap Music: A Political Act

Recalling the article by Bohemian that we discussed a week ago in class, “Musicology as a Political Act”, it really got me thinking about rap music as a genre.  As I read the introduction, I nodded in approval as it seemed to coincide directly with the topic of my ethnomusical final paper.  Through a Davidson student and rap artist, I plan to disprove the stasis that rap music is intended to just please the ear and not to inform or have purpose.  At its beginning, rap was not socially accepted because of its explicit content and obnoxious, violent and sexual influences.  Yet still, its message was clearly intended to inform (ex. N.W.A., Mos Def, Nas, etc.).  Modernly, rap is viewed as ignorant, harmful, and intolerable.

I beg to differ.  Modern rap is actually evolving back to its roots.  Many rappers are viewing their roles less as entertainer and more as the voice of the people.  For example, in Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, he reveals some of his experiences growing up as an impoverished, African American in one of the most dangerous cities in America.  He blatantly speaks about social and political issues.  Many do not see rap music as a means to do so, but in modern times, rap has become a platform for all Americans and even all humans to voice their opinions and concerns.  I, along with many others, believe this to be rap m

1 Comment

  1. I completely agree with you that rap should be viewed in a more positive light in popular culture. I agree that there are many rappers that speak out against injustice and are hated on because they do it in a nonpolitically correct way. And I respect those artists and have no problem with them if they are not politically correct. However, I believe part of the reason rap has become viewed in a negative light lately is a shift from the topics of rap. Rap groups and rappers like you mention definitely did speak out against injustice, yet there are also rappers who do not do this at all and glorify criminality. I believe this is a complicated issue because I do support rap as a genre and most artists, yet there are other artists that I do not respect.

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