“Party people, party people Can y’all get funky?” – Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force
The early days of hip hop would be unrecognizable to today’s youth. The original rap scene that exploded out of the Bronx started as dancing, b-boying (that’s breakdancing to you), and good vibes. From block parties to clubs to the Bronx’s Cedar Park, hip hop was all about having a good time.
“Who freaks the clips with mad amount percussion Where kinky hair goes to unthought-of dimensions” – Digable Planets
Unlike today’s largely sex-obsessed music culture, the vibe in the music was love. As one De La Soul song said, “Sex is a mere molecule In this world of love that I have for you.”
In the early 90s a new trend in hip hop emerged – ‘conscious rappers’. Rappers like Q-Tip and KRS-One were expanding people’s minds.
“Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug Afrocentric living is a big shrug A life filled with (fun) that’s what I love” – A Tribe Called Quest
The music industry had other ideas. Good vibes and conscious rap were given a backseat to “thug life” and “gangster rap.”
“The 90s came in and there was too much consciousness going in hip hop at that time for the powers that be. So here comes gangsta rap. Alright, take off the medallions, you know what I mean, stop all that peace and unity, and let’s do some hoes and cocaine and gang banging,” Grandmaster Caz said in a legendary interview. “At the time, if you were a conscious rapper, you couldn’t even get a record deal anymore.”
One of the early legends of hip hop, Grandmaster Caz wasn’t blaming artists like NWA for pushing messages that took hip hop in a negative direction.
“It’s the music industry itself that kind of drove that ship, and they just recruited people to do what they needed to do,” said Grandmaster Caz.
The rise of artists like NWA and Tupac Shakur glorified the idea of violence and crime in hip hop. Tupac, incidentally, was a drama student who studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts before he began living out the “thug life” he was hired to portray in the film Juice.
In the 2002 album Spiritual Minded, KRS-One referenced the split that had been created in hip hop, and how it affects its listeners.
“Teach your toddlers, not to be thieves and robbers This that other kind of rap, that leads to true hip-hop There’s other kinds of raps, but they lead you to get shot” – KRS-One
The hardcore “gangster rap” of the 90s was transformed again in the early 2000s with a combination of rage, self-degradation, and disrespect promoted by artists like Eminem.
But hip hop is making a comeback and returning to it’s roots. And free thinkers and conservatives most of all should pay attention. Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Politics is downstream from culture.” In 2017, R&B/hip hop surpassed rock to become the biggest music genre in the U.S. in terms of total consumption. Around the very same time, one of the most popular rappers in the world started wearing a MAGA hat.
Kanye West is leading a spiritual and political revival in hip hop. He regularly performs a “Sunday Service” featuring a gospel choir with the express focus of generating positive vibes. In a recent interview with David Letterman, Kanye discussed the idea that certain vibrations in music have the power to heal people, and added that his ultimate goal with his music is “world peace.” While the scientific research into healing vibrations is currently nascent, Kanye’s goal of world peace is laudable. What is inarguable is that popular music and popular musicians are shaping the national conversation.
When Kanye West tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” Owens was instantly rocketed into national prominence. Together, Owens and Kanye have ignited a new conversation in the black community that may be partly responsible for President Trump’s rising approval rate with minorities.
While music industry promoted rappers famous for criminal imagery like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Jay Z have been used as Democrat surrogates, independent rappers supporting Trump are rising up.
“Do you like taxes? Do you like when the government steals your money? No. Do you like guns? Yes. Then why do you vote Democrat? Why aren’t you Republican? We got you,” said independent rap star An0maly at a recent Blexit event. An0maly, who recently released a single called I Like Trump, was describing how he tries to “redpill” people in hip hop.
“You don’t understand the system (yea) I’m about to paint the picture (yea) Media control the mind & censor Everything that ever goes against him” -An0maly
On Facebook, An0maly’s political and spiritual minded rap and political commentary has earned him nearly 750,000 followers. And he isn’t the only up and coming rapper openly expressing praise for President Trump.
Considering Generation Z has been called the “most conservative generation since World War II” and rap is now the most popular genre of music, the rebirth of spiritual and political hip hop may hold the key to shaping the future of America.