By Janiah X Adams
Rising consciousness feeds defiance, hope for Black America
Remember back in the 80s, when a rap song could come on the radio, and parents wouldn’t worry about the lyrics being too harsh for their children?
Instead, during that time, some lyrics inspired revolutionary thought in the minds of Black people.
In 1989, rapper KRS-One started the Stop the Violence Movement in response to killings taking place in the Black community. The group consisted of popular rappers including MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee and others. They produced the hit “Self-Destruction,” a song that encouraged the Black community to put down drugs and weapons.
In 1991, the collective group 2 Black 2 Strong MMG came out with a self-titled song that dealt with racism and the history of slavery.
As the century turned, hip hop’s message was also taking a turn. More and more, the message was turning away from Black consciousness towards degrading women, drugs and self-hatred.
From then to now, artists such as Kid Rock and Rebel Diaz have been using their voices to send political messages. However, the artists that were the most popular were more concerned about the dollar than the message they were selling. It appears a shift is happening.
With the onslaught of police brutality and rampant racism plaguing Blacks, these crises have sparked something in the entertainment industry that could change the direction of popular music, and inspire a broadening of minds.
Beyoncé, a world famous singer with influence over millions of people, recently used her voice to promote her Blackness. In the music video for her latest song “Formation,” Beyoncé made references to police brutality and wrongs seen in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands of Black and poor people devastated and some dead. In one scene in the music video, graffiti on a wall says, “Stop shooting us.” This message is accompanied by a young Black boy in a black hoodie dancing in front of a line of police officers, raising their hands in surrender. In another scene in the video, Beyoncé lays on top of a New Orleans Police cruiser as it sinks under the water.