July 4th is upon us again and all Concrete Loop wants to do is provide a radical playlist for your listening pleasure. Whether you’re lighting the grill, watching the dark skies turn radiant with fireworks, or engaging in the debauchery of alcohol (‘Murrica!), don’t let your “Independence Day” pass by without blasting our “Freedom of Speech” playlist at all ig’nant levels.
While some have been criticized for their subject matter, others have been tagged with conspiracy. Some are new and some are old. But much like what Lincoln said about America, Hip-hop is also “by the people, for the people,” and as such, we felt it necessary to assemble a brief list of Hip-Hop tunes we find to be worthy of some attention.
In one way or another, each song portrays how certain emcees have been successful in keeping the crowds bumpin’, while sharing their beliefs and ideas, without any constraint in the rap universe.
A song in which Nas delivers a letter to the government. He critiques the government officials and people he deems a representative for “Mr. America.” Nas also asks government officials to walk a mile in the shoes of the impoverished.
Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five – The Message
Sampled and imitated all too often, but never matched. “The Message” is arguably the origin of conscious-rap in the early ’80s.
Lupe Fiasco – Words I never Said
Released February 8, 2011 and lives on the Laser album, “Words I Never Said” contains references to controversial political and socioeconomic subject matters, including the September 11 attacks, government fiscal policy, and the occupation of Gaza.
Liberated prior to the ’04 presidential election, “Mosh” is one of Eminem’s most notable protest songs. It prompts voters to vote George W. Bush out of office. The song was extracted from Eminem’s album, Encore, not yet released at the time the video was debuted to the world.
“Fuck Da Police” was infamously delivered by gangsta rap crew N.W.A and appears on the group’s album titled, Straight Outta Compton. Regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time, the song itself caused the FBI to warn N.W.A’s record company about its lyrical content. Since its release in ’88, the “Fuck the Police” slogan continues to infiltrate pop culture today (i.e. t-shirts and artwork).
The song, which was produced by Cole himself, samples Rue Royale’s “Flightline.” It discusses the corruption of an artist when he has the chance for commercial appeal, and the corruption of government when capitalism is involved.
“Fight the Power” incorporates various samples and allusions to African-American culture. It was devised at the request of director Spike Lee, who aimed for a musical theme in his 1989 film Do the Right Thing. It’s regarded as Public Enemy’s best song and has been honored as one of the greatest songs of all time by critics and publications alike.
Prior to the song’s release, it was projected at 66 locations in black-and-white. The song discusses slavery as well as racism in general, materialism, and stereotypes of African Americans in the United States. The song lives on the Yeezus album.
Much like the album it belongs to (2.0) “Freedom Time (War In The Mind)” is a lyrically-driven cut, where Lauryn shares her thoughts on religion, society, God, and love.
“Sound of da Police” is the second single from rapper KRS-One’s debut solo album, Return of the Boom Bap. The lyrics call out to police in places like Bronx, New York, which carry an intricate history of institutionalized racism, oppression and violence against the black community.
“Why” was released as the second single from Jadakiss’ second solo LP Kiss of Death. Jada attracted controversy from political commentator Bill O’Reilly, who labeled the rapper as a “smear merchant” due to lyrics in the song, which state Jada’s belief that George W. Bush helped to coordinate the September 11 attacks.
A call to teach the future generations, “Teach the Children” is where Rakim discusses matters like unemployment (which we can still relate to today) and explains how he feels in regards to the government playing a role in the drug business.
The leading single off the Folarin mixtape is produced by NO Credit and samples Willie Hutch’s classic “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out.” The Obama vocal clips complete the raise-your-fist groove.