Remember those days when rap and hip hop music were more than just catchy hooks, the bling and the nice whips? Remember when rap and hip hop had a purpose? When it served as the ultimate mouthpiece for the poor and oppressed masses? When rhyming was a skilled art that required the clever interplay of words that not captivated your attention but also made you think of the deeper meaning of what’s being said?
Some argue that rap and hip hop music no longer possess the messages it once did nor produces conscious artists like RDMC, Rakim, KRS-ONE, Public Enemy ect. because there is no longer a need to ‘fight the power.’ Rap orijinated out of Black ghetto youths frustration with the dominant Eurocentric system that often excluded them and their needs. However, with rap and hip hop having produced moguls such as Jay-Z, Diddy, Cash Money etc. it harder for rappers and hip hop artists in North America rap about the ‘struggle’ and oppression when some of it’s leading icons live lavishly.
While rap and hip hop in North America today is predominantly done for entertainment purposes, in other parts of the world where the stakes are high and oppression and violence is rampant, rap and hip hop music have reverted back to their orijinal roots; that is, to serve as a mouthpiece for the young and downtrodden. Rap music in Africa is more than just a catchy tune to dance to. It is laden with messages and expresses the voice of the oppressed youths, who will inevitably lead the country one day.
Take the youths for Libya for example. They are using rap and hip hop music as an outlet to not only express their frustrations but also to instigate positive change. Change that till bring peace, democracy and freedom to the war torn nation. As noted by one young rapper from Benghazi, rappers like Tupac stood for something more than just a man who was able to spit some catchy hooks. Tupac and his defiant lyrics served as symbol of how to use music, the ultimate medium of communication, as a means to call attention to their plight under Gaddafi’s rule and bring about change.
While rap and hip hop music in North America today is often lambasted for its misogynist messages and its promotion of sex and violence, the young people in Libya are reviving rap’s true intended purpose; to bring about awareness and instigate positive change.