Hip Hop as Politics

Listen carefully to “authentic” hip hop and you will hear about the issues of the day. Some of the issues rapped about in the ’70s, when hip hop was just beginning, are still around today: drugs, violence, racial discrimination and lack of access to a good education in the inner city.

Hip-hop expert Bakari Kitwana and others see the hip-hop generation as a powerful political force if harnessed and managed well. Indeed, the past couple of years have actually seen hip-hop “summits,” where the art form’s core values are discussed along with analysis of today’s social and political culture.

Hip hop is about unity, and that includes unity between the races, says film director Charlie Ahearn. It can help break down the racial barriers that persist in this country because it allows everyone to experience and share the cultures of others.

“There’s a large segment of white kids who are alienated by society,” says Kitwana, whose book Why White Kids Love Hip Hop came out in 2004. “They’re discouraged by the globalization of the economy and feel locked out. Social indicators of this are the increase in antidepressants to teenagers and events like Columbine,” he says. “Hip hop was a refuge for black kids and it’s becoming that for white kids.”

Return to> Hip Hop ‘in da House’: Why the Music and Culture Appeal to Kids But Worry Many Parents

– Morgan Baker