The Political Hip Hop Sub-genre

Artists like Tupac Shakur, Immortal Technique and Macklemore use the lyricism and technique of hip hop culture to contribute a focused array of issues to a timeless community of musical artists that employ their talent to communicate, reflect and predict political issues of human society. Music causes introspection and reaction on a societal level. This can be seen across time and culture. In the religion and culture of the Eastern world, specifically Confucianism in China, sound plays a key role in shaping the mood and cultural mold of the country. In more recent times, in the Western World, this same idea of enacting political change through music is exemplified in the recent American music scene. Artists of the 60’s and 70’s brought about social change on a massive scale, entire subcultures were created and political movements erupted onto the scene. In the 80’s and 90’s another wave of issues were brought up by a musical sub-genre of 3rd wave feminists. Politics is a lot of the time assessed from a more scientific approach, hence “political science”. An examination of the musical influence cross-culturally and across time provides for a different perspective on our understanding of the individual issues examined in addition to our concept of ourselves as a composing society.

12 Dances with the Devil

Throughout my exploration of the sub-genre of political hip hop, I found that the methodology of the songs was similar between artists. A song that is focusing on a specific issue is sometimes formed as a narrative. These songs are best compared to a short story or fable that one would find in a collection. The listener is meant to learn from the subject of the narrative. It is in these songs that we as an audience are connected to an issue on a level that is past simply understanding that an issue is out there. An individual who has experienced the events that are being spoken about has crafted a track that employs specific tones and lyrical schemes that hook our interest as an audience. The song “Dances with the Devil” by Immortal Technique is a perfect example.


2 thoughts on “The Political Hip Hop Sub-genre

  1. This is a extremely relative topic to current events. For the past few weeks it has been impossible to log onto social media without seeing artists like Beyonce and Macklemore speaking out in support of marriage equality. I think it’s very interesting that you found not only a link in the lyrics of political hip hop but also in the structure of the songs themselves.

  2. I like your topic! Are you planning on focusing more on music tied to politics in the past or in the present? Another interesting thing you could explore is the different social classes listening to different music and how this could potentially influence their political beliefs or doctrines.

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