Social Awareness in hiphop (help-r)

don_gigantedon_gigante 259 Posts
edited January 2009 in Strut Central
so, im writing a research paper on "the history of social awareness (ie: AIDS, gang violence, black-on-black crime, drugs/crack, police brutality, teen pregnancy, etc) in hiphop"...basically documenting the highs and lows and tossing in a bit of analysis along the way, starting w GMF's the message back in '81/'82 up to today...ive started a list but could use a lil help as some years are easier than others....88-93 is full of examples; while 95-2005 is sorta thin on examples....my only listing for this timespan is Black Star-Respiration...im sure theres more, im just drawing blanks right now....any suggestions much appreciated...
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  • Oh man, not another one of these.

    "social awareness" doesn't necessarily = "positive messages that build community, enhance spiritual awareness and discourage black-on-black crime."

    If you're using "The Message" as a template, there's plenty of rap records from the decade you mentioned that aren't considered "conscious", "aware", or "positive" that nonetheless address urban social realities with aplomb.

    If I were you, I'd spend some time listening to the records rather than quizzing soulstrut posters (who honestly don't know that much about it anyway).

    Not trying to sound harsh, just saying.

  • phongonephongone 1,652 Posts
    You might want to check out the works of Immortal Technique, Dead Prez and Jedi Mind Tricks. Otherwise, social awareness in hiphop during 2000's was pretty slim pickings.

    This dude seems to be up on the social awareness on the hip-hop tip. http://www.daveyd.com/

  • ARRRRGH

    define "social awareness"

    Jedi Mind Tricks is more like "awareness of the illuminatus trilogy"

  • So UGK doesn't have Social Awareness?

    2Pac?

    Ghostface Killah "All I Got Is You" is not Social Awareness?

  • Does the act/artist have to be really popular with (white) college students?

  • :head explodes:



  • Jedi Mind Tricks

    Vinnie= one to grow on???

    What????

    Honestly, people still do this??? Dude 1994 called they want their academic pursuits back.

  • Outkast
    Jay-Z

    SOCIALLY AWARE AS F*CK

  • I'm sorry, I'm all for parsing hip-hop academically. I just can't stomach the idea that for an artist to be considered "socially aware" they have to be outwardly revolutionary or spiritual. That's just such a limited, prejudiced lens to look at the music through. It shortchanges the whole genre and honestly, it might impress a college prof but it makes the writer look foolish to anyone who actually knows the shit.

  • You might want to check out the works of Immortal Technique, Dead Prez and Jedi Mind Tricks. Otherwise, social awareness in hiphop during 2000's was pretty slim pickings.

    This dude seems to be up on the social awareness on the hip-hop tip. http://www.daveyd.com/


    actually i have an immortal technique cd layin around somewhere...ill see if i can dig it up...dead prez is a good ex...however, i tend to conjure images of them "runnin up on crackers in they city hall" for some reason...seems a bit too violent and radical for my purposes...ill dig up their cd as well...will look into JMT and DaveyD also....

    thanks



  • DB_CooperDB_Cooper Manhatin' 7,823 Posts
    If it's an undergrad paper, your scope is too broad. If your professor is white, write a paper focusing on Mos Def. You'll bang it out in two hours, and you can go do bong rips like you're supposed to. It's college, after all.

  • If it's an undergrad paper, your scope is too broad. If your professor is white, write a paper focusing on Mos Def. You'll bang it out in two hours, and you can go do bong rips like you're supposed to. It's college, after all.

    yea, im in the master's program...its a research seminar class...we have the whole semester to write a 25 page paper w primary/secondary sources w full documentation...the sort of paper that is supposed to turn into a Ph.D dissertation next year...but yes, Mos Def "Mr Nigga" could work as an ex...b/w I miss the bong rip slack years as an undergrad

  • what is your argument exactly? Are you just documenting instances of "social awareness" in rap music?

  • phongonephongone 1,652 Posts
    I'm sorry, I'm all for parsing hip-hop academically. I just can't stomach the idea that for an artist to be considered "socially aware" they have to be outwardly revolutionary or spiritual. That's just such a limited, prejudiced lens to look at the music through. It shortchanges the whole genre and honestly, it might impress a college prof but it makes the writer look foolish to anyone who actually knows the shit.

    I understand your frustration, but dude is just looking for some help with his paper and examples of "socially aware raps," whatever that is. I simply recommended artistes like Dead Prez or Immortal Technique because they're known for putting out revolutionary/socially conscious raps. Of course that doesn't mean they speak for or represent the mindset of the common black man. I would agree that someone like Bun B more accurately depicts the struggles of the street. But I dont know if his collective work could be characterized as socially conscious. Perhaps specific songs from him would be helpful...

  • ReynaldoReynaldo 6,054 Posts
    Reflection Eternal "Four Women"
    Reflection Eternal "Good Mourning"
    Reflection Eternal "Africa Dream"
    Common "The Corner"
    Common "The People"
    Common "Forever Begins"
    Common "Black Maybe"
    Kanye "Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)"
    Nas "I Can"

  • Im with the above, what does socially concious mean? As opposed to what? Anti-social? Schitzoid? Socially awkward? Ignorant? Seems like it would take 25 pages to wrangle in that ambiguous ass phrase.

  • I'm sorry, I'm all for parsing hip-hop academically. I just can't stomach the idea that for an artist to be considered "socially aware" they have to be outwardly revolutionary or spiritual. That's just such a limited, prejudiced lens to look at the music through. It shortchanges the whole genre and honestly, it might impress a college prof but it makes the writer look foolish to anyone who actually knows the shit.

    I understand your frustration, but dude is just looking for some help with his paper and examples of "socially aware raps," whatever that is. I simply recommended artistes like Dead Prez or Immortal Technique because they're known for putting out revolutionary/socially conscious raps. Of course that doesn't mean they speak for or represent the mindset of the common black man. I would agree that someone like Bun B more accurately depicts the struggles of the street. But I dont know if his collective work could be characterized as socially conscious. Perhaps specific songs from him would be helpful...

    To the extent that "socially aware hip-hop" is that which laments or at least addresses an urban blight - teen pregnancy, drug addiction, violent crime, decay, police brutality, lack of representation politically - I don't see how you can exclude rappers that "more accurately depict the struggles of the street" (whatever that means). There's just racks and racks of material out there. From Nas to Spice 1. Almost every MC in the last 20 years has written something addressing a social ill, even if they don't have a reputation for it. If the original poster is in a masters program, he's going to need to do a bit more than pick up some titles from soulstrut to fill in the gaps! I mean really. We always complain about how shoddy hip-hop writing generally is. It should be a challenge to anybody writing or thinking seriously about this subject to entertain examples of stuff they might not personally be into. If you're a big BlackStar fan, look into some Scarface. If you're into Jedi Mind Tricks, why not check out some Trick Daddy. It's never been easier.

    If you want the money answer, The Coup has been putting out records consistently for the last 10-15 years and they're all "Socially Aware".

  • Im with the above, what does socially concious mean? As opposed to what? Anti-social? Schitzoid? Socially awkward? Ignorant? Seems like it would take 25 pages to wrangle in that ambiguous ass phrase.

    i agree. 25 pages isn't even enough to tackle the subject of the problematic definition of "socially conscious," and that would be the first thing you would need to do in order lay out your argument for the reader.

  • unityunity 179 Posts

    yea, im in the master's program...its a research seminar class...we have the whole semester to write a 25 page paper w primary/secondary sources w full documentation...the sort of paper that is supposed to turn into a Ph.D dissertation next year...but yes, Mos Def "Mr Nigga" could work as an ex...b/w I miss the bong rip slack years as an undergrad

    This is a potential dissertation paper?

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,030 Posts

    so, im writing a research paper on "the history of social awareness (ie: AIDS, gang violence, black-on-black crime, drugs/crack, police brutality, teen pregnancy, etc) in hiphop"...basically documenting the highs and lows and tossing in a bit of analysis along the way, starting w GMF's the message back in '81/'82 up to today...ive started a list but could use a lil help as some years are easier than others....88-93 is full of examples; while 95-2005 is sorta thin on examples....

    my only listing for this timespan is Black Star-Respiration...im sure theres more, im just drawing blanks right now....any suggestions much appreciated...

    I think JP's core point is a good one (even if I don't share his need to bang my head into a computer about it): for the purposes of your paper, I think it'd be an excellent idea to first tackle what you even mean by "socially conscious."

    From the sound of it, you're really talking about hip-hop "protest songs" or, to put it more prosaically, "rap songs with an unambiguous, politically left, social critique function". The field of such songs gets really narrow - even something like "THe Message" wouldn't really qualify, in my mind, as a literal protest song since it's more about social realism than it is a specific, articulated critique.

    Personally, I think the far more interesting paper would be to explore the idea of "social consciousness" via social realism in hip-hop - basically, the point JP is making about how talking about ghetto life is often a critique in and of itself.

  • ReynaldoReynaldo 6,054 Posts
    You're going to have to use lyrics from the songs to support your arguments so you might as well stick with the dudes who give you social awareness wrapped up nicely with a bow on it. Otherwise you're going to have to get into trying to figure out and explain artistic intent. Stick with the obvious/explicit/slow-pitch softball schitt... and knock it out the park.

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Leave Hip Hop Alone

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,030 Posts

    yea, im in the master's program...its a research seminar class...we have the whole semester to write a 25 page paper w primary/secondary sources w full documentation...the sort of paper that is supposed to turn into a Ph.D dissertation next year...but yes, Mos Def "Mr Nigga" could work as an ex...b/w I miss the bong rip slack years as an undergrad

    This is a potential dissertation paper?

    I'm not quite as dismissive but if I were your advisor, I'd want to know what you think the overall relevance of this specific topic would be to your discipline. It's well tread in a lot of the hip-hop scholarship out there already.

  • Yeah thanks Oliver that's what I meant.

    It seems a pretty futile exercise to document "rap songs with an unambiguous, politically left, social critique function" (hereby dubbed RSWAUPLSCF), one that's been done plenty of times and (in my biased opinion) misses the hip-hop forest for the trees.

  • DB_CooperDB_Cooper Manhatin' 7,823 Posts
    hip-hop forest

    [digression for the sake of levity] I would hang out in a hip hop forest. [/digression for the sake of levity]

  • I think Ghostface made a song about it.

    Edit: Yep, he did.


  • phongonephongone 1,652 Posts

    so, im writing a research paper on "the history of social awareness (ie: AIDS, gang violence, black-on-black crime, drugs/crack, police brutality, teen pregnancy, etc) in hiphop"...basically documenting the highs and lows and tossing in a bit of analysis along the way, starting w GMF's the message back in '81/'82 up to today...ive started a list but could use a lil help as some years are easier than others....88-93 is full of examples; while 95-2005 is sorta thin on examples....

    my only listing for this timespan is Black Star-Respiration...im sure theres more, im just drawing blanks right now....any suggestions much appreciated...

    I think JP's core point is a good one (even if I don't share his need to bang my head into a computer about it): for the purposes of your paper, I think it'd be an excellent idea to first tackle what you even mean by "socially conscious."

    From the sound of it, you're really talking about hip-hop "protest songs" or, to put it more prosaically, "rap songs with an unambiguous, politically left, social critique function". The field of such songs gets really narrow - even something like "THe Message" wouldn't really qualify, in my mind, as a literal protest song since it's more about social realism than it is a specific, articulated critique.

    Personally, I think the far more interesting paper would be to explore the idea of "social consciousness" via social realism in hip-hop - basically, the point JP is making about how talking about ghetto life is often a critique in and of itself.

    STOP TEASING THE DUDE AND JUST POASTS SOME "SOCIALLY AWARE" RAPS!

    And I dont think the dude is trying to change the landscape of hiphop journalism. He's just trying to get pass his course - LET THE MAN EAT!
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