Rap Activism In the 2010s

Rap music was a genre created to defy the disco and authority of society. More specifically gangsta rap was created as a direct defense mechanism against the cruel justice system showing its hand with events such as the Rodney King beating sparking the nation’s outrage. Rap music has always had the job of providing social commentary in the rawest form. The event that would rock the nation in the 2010’s would be the 2012 killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin and the freeing of his killer,George Zimmerman, in the following year. Plies was one of the many rappers to speak directly on the matter in his song “We Are Trayvon” stating “The ones they’re supposed to keep in be the ones they let go on. The ones that’s out tryna hustle be the ones they hold on bond”. This piece speaks directly on the failure of the justice system to incriminate whites who commit serious heinous acts such as mass shootings, lynching and rape while locking up blacks caught in possession of a drug like weed ,which is legal in many states, trying to simply make a profit to take care of themselves and their family.

Just two years later the black community would be triggered by yet another gruesome killing of an unarmed teen when the video of  the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white Fergouson,MO police officer began to go viral. The officer’s plea of not guilty and self defense in a very obvious slaughtering sparked national outrage , his acquittal of all charges only heightened this outrage and prompted national unity and protest against the corrupt justice system in place. Many rap artists such as T.I., Jay-Z and The Game spoke and/or rapped about their disdain for the matter however it was J Cole’s” Be Free” that perfectly captured the exact melancholic and hopelessness the black community was feeling as he wrote “Can you tell me why/Every time I step outside I see my ni**as die/I’m lettin’ you know/That there ain’t no gun they make that can kill my soul/Oh, no”.

Rap activism has also been seen in politics most notably in regards to the presidential election of a very incompetent Donald Trump with California rappers Nipsey Hussel and YG speaking openly against him with their controversial hit “F*ck Donald Trump”, which YG defiantly performed in venues such as universities in support of Trump.This political defiance cost him many gigs and forfeited his payment on some performances.

Erika Grimes

Erika Grimes

J.Cole

“I’d rather be happy trying to please myself than sad trying to please everyone else.” North Carolina native Jermaine Lamarr Cole made his first appearance into

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