Robin Hood Theory

In honor of Black History month, I’d like to round out the month of February with some (thought provoking, of course) rap and hip-hop from African American artists. But before we send out a few songs over the next 7 days, let me explain a couple reasons why I love hip-hop and why I think, more than many other musical genres, it is has the capacity to make you think and even to teach.

In the book, Amusing Ourselves to Death (a post on this book is coming soon), author Neil Postman makes the point that a message an author, speaker, artist, etc, is able to convey is determined largely by the medium he or she chooses to use. In other words, the medium of writing can be conducive to conveying certain types of messages that the medium of television cannot.

Each medium has its communicative niche, including, hip-hop/rap.  Because of its often fast-paced tempo, rappers have the capacity to articulate more comprehensive and detailed messages than other musical genres. Now, this does not mean that rap music is better than country music, electronic, or soft rock. Musical preferences are as subjective as taste buds. And in fact, as I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, I think a lot of rap music is air-wave pollution. My point is simply that because of its form, hip-hop as a medium can communicate complex and nuanced ideas and lines of thought, where other genres, because of their form, would struggle to do the same.

But what type of meaning is contained within these musical messages? More words certainly does not necessitate more substance. And admittedly, a lot of hip-hop artists use the medium to gloat about base subjects such as acquiring money, exploiting women and engaging in violence. But a few rappers use the medium for what I would consider to be a ‘greater good.’ They use their chosen medium to speak about injustice, oppression and growth. They incorporate history, economics, religion and politics into their music in a way that is accessible to just about anyone with a pair of headphones. And when I listen, the music does not just appeal to my ears, but my brain.

So, without further ado, here is some thoughtful hip-hop for your eardrums and your mind to snack on as we round out the month of February. Enjoy.

Some of my favorite lines:

“And no matter what we say our religion is/ Whether it’s Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddha-ism/ Old School-ism or New School-ism/ If we’re not schooling the youth WITH wisdom/ Then the sins of the father will visit the children…”

“I seek Sun, deceive none, for each one must teach one/
At least one must flow and show the structure, of freedom…”

“We’re taking over radio, and wack media/
Cause systematically they getting greedier and greedier/
Conquering turfs with my ill organization/
Takin’ out the man while we scan the information…”

“God is Universal, he is the Ruler Universal/
For those who can’t follow that spells GURU when in my circle/
I see all sides of my culture…/
Design my thoughts like a sculpture.”