Dear Readers… as you all are aware, your favorite writer Typo-Critical has recently embarked upon a campaign to assess and project where Rap and R&B music appears to be going as we head into 2011-2020. To get a feel for where I’m going with these predictions, peep the first edition of “The Future of Music.” Now, on to my next one –
Prediction 2: “conscious” rap briefly re-emerges.
“I’m one of the few who’s been accused and abused/of the crime of poisonin’ young minds/but you don’t know shit ’til you been in my shoes!” – Dr. Dre, “100 Miles N Runnin'”
The last decade of the twentieth century (the 90s) witnessed a slight building upon what has been popularly referred to as “conscious rap.” Channeling oratorical masterpieces of poets of the 60s and 70s like Gil Scott-Heron and Amiri Baraka, conscious rap music was classified as any music that incited thought, discussion, or dissection of issues prevalent in a given community. The most distinctive difference between these past poets and conscious rappers of the 90s, is that the former often wrote pieces geared towards Black pride and challenging “the Man”; while the latter talked about the harsh realities that came with being a part of an underclass or underrepresented community.
Following groups such Eric B & Rakim and Public Enemy (when Flavor Flav was a rebel in his own mind instead of about chicken and chickenheads), arguably gangsta rap in its earliest forms could be considered the emergence of conscious rap in the 90s. I could literally dedicate a book to gangsta rap – indeed, it’s already been done – but just for a reference point, the rap group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit’ Attitudes) was one of the earliest and most well-known gangsta rap groups. *Note: I say this with no disrespect to Boogie Down Productions, whose Criminal Minded album back in the 80s is credited with birthing “gangsta rap” before the group went conscious*. N.W.A. was largely credited with bringing in a very raw, uncut sound to rap music and hence starting a trend that continues to this day (although it has focused less on violence and more so especially on the drug-dealing/”trapping” aspect in the modern). Read the rest of this entry »