No matter how you feel about it as a form of music or art, Hip Hop over the last few decades has done a hell of a job at shedding a light on social issues and teaching younger generations about their history. Black History Month is the perfect time to do just that. And here are a few songs from a wide array of Hip Hop artists that have stood the test of time by raising awareness and helping Hip Hop heads to know their past. You must learn!
COMMON – A SONG FOR ASSATA: The Chicago emcee pays tribute to one of the Black Panther Party’s larger-than-life figures.
DE LA SOUL – STAKES IS HIGH: From the 1996 album of the same name, a song taking a look at the state of Hip Hop and of society from De La’s perspective.
KANYE WEST – CRACK MUSIC: Yeezy gives his own version of a history lesson about the crack epidemic that plagued Black America and in some cases still does.
KENDRICK LAMAR – HII POWER: K-Dot’s video for this single from the Section.80 mix tape is filled with powerful images of the Civil Rights and Black Power eras
KILLER MIKE – REAGAN: A full on, scathing indictment of President #40. Mike pulls no punches in his assessment of the Gipper.
MOS DEF – MISTA NIGGA: Inspired by A Tribe Called Quest’s “Sucka Nigga” from ’93 and featuring Tribe’s own Q-Tip on the hook. The artist currently known as Yasiin Bey went all out in condemning racism.
QUEEN LATIFAH – LADIES FIRST: The Queen’s celebrates both Black Power and feminism with assistance from Monie Love.
STOP THE VIOLENCE MOVEMENT – SELF DESTRUCTION: A classic moment of solidarity in Hip Hop history featuring legendary artists like KRS One, Public Enemy, Doug E. Fresh, Stetsasonic, Heavy D and more.
TALIB KWELI – FOUR WOMEN: An emotional Hip Hop rendition of the classic Nina Simone tune by the Brooklyn emcee from the first Reflection Eternal album.
X CLAN – HEED THE WORD OF THE BROTHER: Heavy on the funk samples and the black consciousness, X Clan’s track is one of the best and most well known from the late 1980’s black awareness period of Hip Hop.