Research/Writing by Gillian Robins | Analysis/Writing by Jason Joven | Title Photo by Jonn Leffmann
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Rap and hip-hop have deep roots in social activism, from rebel rap group N.W.A. to the mercurial Tupac Shakur. Whether it was Chuck D showing us how to fight the powers that be, or Yasiin Bey (f.k.a. Mos Def) corresponding from Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy streets, rap gave us a lens into American lives some of us knew nothing about. Of course, party rap tracks have their time and place, but “conscious rap” can cause you think differently or feel empathetically. Some of our greatest rappers chose to be a voice to people who have faced injustice, been systematically disadvantaged, or simply just were down on their luck.
However, time passes, commercialization happens, and the product naturally changes. Rap artists now have platforms like YouTube and Twitter at their fingertips to broadcast their views and share music and visuals, but a fan is more likely to see a fun selfie or dance meme on a big artist’s feed, rather than a deep-seated social statement.
So with the precarious state of politics and momentous movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter growing, we’re wondering from a data perspective: do rap fans care about social activism?
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