Hip Hop and Rap as Political Expression

4 April 2015
This paper examines how hip hop and in particular rap music gives African Americans on the margins of society a powerful voice to express political discontent.

This paper discusses how the musical styles of hip hop and rap create a powerful venue for African Americans to express their feelings regarding politics, racial discrimination and society in general. To compliment the main thesis, this paper includes an in-depth history of the origins of hip hop, analysis of politically significant songs and the effects of mass media on hip hop.
“In the United States of America we pride ourselves as being the freest nation in the world. Unfortunately, there are times in our history in which certain groups have been unrightfully deprived of their freedom. This can be said for African-Americans who endured 244 years of slavery and another century of institutionalized racism. As Ralph Ellison has suggested, “Afro-Americans have had rhythmic freedom in place of social freedom, linguistic wealth instead of pecuniary wealth” (West, 1999, p. 474). The late 1970s signaled a new era of rhythmic and linguistic wealth: rap music. Hip hop and in particular rap music gives African Americans on the margins of society a powerful voice to express political discontent, but these messages are being obscured by the violence and sexism in some rap music. While political discontent is expressed through all the elements of hip hop, rap music has become the most powerful, creating a link that transcends location, age, religion, and race.”

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