Conscious or Conflicted? Are They The Truth Or Just Troubled?
For people like myself who really love music debates, the “conscious rapper” topic is one that tends to get people all riled up. More often than not, someone’s favorite rapper will get talked about in a negative light and come under fire for their actions not always living up to their words. I’ve learned to not have any real beliefs in the idea of the “conscious” rapper because when you do, you’re also going to get that human side that you only thought belongs to the “gangsta” rapper. I don’t believe many of the complaints about the “high and mighty conscious rappers” are warranted. I don’t think it’s right to expect them to ALWAYS talk about the plight of black people or to be positive every second of the day. Then again, in life you’re often forced to take sides. Anyway, enough rambling – just take a look at a few of the conscious rappers and feel free to let me know what you think (I’m also on Twitter…DrennaB).
This guy has caused many almost fistfight “discussions” between me and friends. Many would argue that Tupac is not only the greatest rapper ever but also one of the very few who wanted real change in the community. But for as much as his rhymes and interviews were part of the solution, his actions were part of the problem. He often found himself in the midst of gun troubles and of course, we all remember the time he spent in prison for his alleged part in a sexual assault.
For the most part, Common is probably one of the most mainstream “conscious” rappers in the game today. He speaks about the empowerment of the Black community, treating Black women with more respect and how we need to get the family unity back together. With that in mind, he drops “the n word” in just about every song, he’s definitely referred to women as “bitches” and in a recent interview where he discussed his little beef with Drake, he said they could box it out without gloves. I’m sure he was just having fun with the last portion because quite frankly, no one is really trying to see the former Mr. Crochet Pants fight anybody.
Most Def aka Yaasin Bey
Let me get this out of the way: the love Mos has for Brooklyn will make me love him forever (unless he does something personal to me, my friends or family). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Mos has represented the “Black Power Fist” since he first jumped on the scene in the group, BlackStar. No one questions his love for Black people and how he wants more for us, but many question is extra love for the ladies. If all you knew about Mos’ music, then we’ve only really heard of him talk about women in his two popular songs, “Ms. Phatbooty” and “Umi Says.” But for his personal life, it has been said that he believes in having multiple wives. Along with the multiple wives, he allegedly has lots of children by different women. Now note, I am saying “allegedly” because Mos doesn’t really believe in talking about these things but if they are true, I’m not really sure these are steps in the right direction for our community uplifting.
Thought is one of the illest and most underrated rappers out. Period. He doesn’t just talk about the black community as part of The Roots, he talks about social issues that affect the world. He raps with pride about his hometown Philadelphia while also expressing the pain of seeing the city in trouble in terms of violence and corruption. He is conscious in every sense of the word. He also happens to like a few “pieces” of bling from time to time (you’ll sometimes notice if you’ve seen them in concert or on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon). What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, according to some, if he were so “conscious,” he would not wear jewels – diamonds, in particular – that may come from bloodshed (known as blood diamonds) in order to obtain them. I’m sure I’m biased since I’m a HUGE fan because I don’t know that he doesn’t know that and really, a lot of people don’t take the time to get non blood diamonds so we’d have to take everyone to task..and we don’t.
So many people still listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as sort of a go-to-guide to get through relationships and life as a Black woman. For a long time, women looked up to Lauryn as a conscious rapper not only as a solo artist but as a member of the Fugees. Until…they didn’t. You already know where I’m going with this. She played mistress to Wyclef, she had children by Rohan Marley who was allegedly still married until they were well into their own children and it all just kept downhill from there. So Lauryn is now considered crazy more than she is conscious. Want the old Lauryn? Buy her old albums.
In case you don’t know, Kweli is the other half of BlackStar with his good friend Mos Def. Just like Mos, he talks about uplifting Black people – both here in the United States and around the world. Kweli has very strong views about poor people, how to raise our families and how to treat our women. But again, he’s come under attack for his personal issues: apparently he and his wife have had a couple of altercations in public (they both deny it but people claim to have seen it and they’re really not important enough to lie on) which may or may not go against the way he holds women in high regard in his music. But should we really let things like these alleged incidents with his wife change our views on whom he is as a rapper? I bet if we asked him, he’d go on a long Twitter rant (he loves to argue with “the haters” on there). Oh, he also doesn’t vote because he doesn’t believe that the system works towards change. I guess. Moving on…
I have a serious love/hate relationship with Banner. He is a self-proclaimed walking contradiction and for the most part, I can respect it. He’s quick to tell you that he’s a revolutionary. He wants to be the next leader that we look up to (a la Martin, Malcolm, Harriet, etc.); he’s smart, he’s a philanthropist, and he’s seemingly a nice guy. *takes the next breath* He also, talks about “getting it in like a pimp” and tells women exactly how he wants it and how they should give it to him. In the past, he’s said that there are certain songs you need to do in order to get people to listen so you can talk about the real. I don’t know, David…I just don’t know. There’s always a “but” with him and that ends up with me just saying, “Oh shut up.” He’s fine though, yes he is. That’s a nice, STRONG back right there…from what I’ve seen in pictures.
Quick Honorable Mentions:
When he’s really serious, Luda can vividly paint a picture of the world and tell you what needs to be for change. He also tells you about hoes in different area codes and how he’s pimpin all over the world.
Lupe is all about the advancement of his people. But he came under fire last year for directly (or indirectly) calling the President a terrorist and also being one of the people who loves to talk about problems but won’t vote because “it doesn’t matter anyway.” Yeah, he’s one of them too.