Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Top Five Protest Hip-Hop Numbers That Gave Confidence To Generations Of Singers To Grab The Mic

Outlook revisits some of the most iconic hip-hop songs that gave confidence to generations of singers across the world to grab the mic and speak up.

Most iconic hip-hop songs are by greats such as Mos Def, Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar

One of the most widely shared videos of protests following the murder of George Floyd in the US was of a group of protestors gathered outside the White House on June 14 last year, almost a month after the murder, dancing to the tunes of Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’. This is how the hit ‘89 number begins

Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be

And it goes on to declare

I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check

This is the same group whose frontman Chuk D famously called rap "black America's CNN". The rage that came from being frequently discriminated against and assaulted by the police was the foundation stone of several late 80’s and early 90’s hip-hop hits, such as ‘Fuck Tha Police’ by NWA, ‘Cop Killer’ by Ice T’s Body Count, the Geto Boys’ ‘Crooked Officer’. Many of these numbers, along with the latter-day hits such as Ludacris’ ‘Move Bitch’, were sung by thousands of protestors during the historic Black Lives Matter movement.

As we look at some of the Indian hip-hop stars in the current issue of our magazine, those who have molded the genre to their own styles, who draw from the same source of hurt and anger, we thought of revisiting some of the most iconic hip-hop songs by greats such as Mos Def, Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar, that gave confidence to generations of singers across the world to grab the mic and speak up. Please pardon the French.

Mathematics by Mos Def

I'm blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle
Hip-Hop past all your tall social hurdles
Like the nationwide projects, prison-industry complex
Working class poor better keep your alarm set
Streets too loud to ever hear freedom ring
Say evacuate your sleep, it's dangerous to dream

Ignorance Is Bliss by Kendrick Lamar

Kill him where he stand and stand over him, shake his hand
Then jump back in that mini van, double back to his block and blam I ain't backing down for nothing
I'ma back em down like Shaq with this black 2-2-3 in my hand
Better pray that this chopper jam like a radio single, man
Police radio signals sayin' that a 187 land on your corner
Coroners comfort your mama
"Mama he's dead", the next morning I toasted up with my homies

Changes by Tupac Shakur

I'm tired of bein' poor, and even worse I'm black
My stomach hurts, so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he's a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
One less hungry mouth on the welfare

The Proud by Talib Kweli

I remember Oklahoma when they put out the blaze
And put Islamic terrorist bombing, on the front page
It's like saying only gays get AIDS, propaganda
Like saying the problem's over when they locked that man up
Wrong! It's just the beginning, the first inning
Battle for America's soul, the devil's winning

Police State by Dead Prez

The average Black male
Live a third of his life in a jail cell
'Cause the world is controlled by the white male
And the people don't never get justice
And the women don't never get respected
And the problems don't never get solved
And the jobs don't never pay enough
So the rent always be late, can you relate?
We livin' in a police state