D’Angelo says it’s time to make a stand. Black Messiah, the first project from D’Angelo in 15 years, was inspired by the current state of race relations in the United States. During a recent interview with the New York Times, the singer discussed how important it for artists to sing about social change. He also voiced how disappointed he is that only a handful of black artists are taking a stand.
After sitting with the interview and surveying the landscape of the hip-hop culture, I think D’Angelo is spot on with his statement. Artists and fans are not doing enough to shed light on important issues within the community.
The days of N.W.A. and Public Enemy have passed. Now more than ever it seems as if people won’t financially support artists who create conscious rap. Outside of Joey Badass, there is a stigma with creating deep thought provoking rap music in this generation. “Coming up, the music of my era was very conscious. I grew up on Public Enemy, and it was popular culture to be aware.” said D’Angelo during his interview. “People were wearing Malcolm X T-shirts and Malcolm X hats. It was a very cool thing to know who Malcolm X was. It was all in the lyrics. It was trendy to be conscious and aware. Now the trend … it’s just [expletive].” Are we doing enough as members in the hip-hop community to spread the word of deep issues the people are afflicted by?
Looking at the leaders of the next generation, I am nervous that the power of our voice will be lost over time. For every J.Cole we have a Young Thug Lil Boosie & Yung Lean. While Thugger has never claimed he is the voice of the people, the industry pushes more music from his realm than conscious music.
I wonder: Why aren’t we pushing conscious rap? Is it because the music is bad from that style of rap in this generation? Are fans in the community dropping the ball because we aren’t in the right creative space? Are we hurting the culture by supporting artists like Young Thug?