Hip-hop and Politics

By Hatty Lee Aug 19, 2008

Over the weekend I went to Rock the Bells in Mt. View, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco. It’s been a long minute since I’ve been to a big hip-hop event. I was looking forward to this one—it was a hip-hop reunion. But it also turned out to be a glance at how hip-hop has evolved. I sat there watching people walk by—young, old, white, Black, Asian, Latino—a pretty interesting crowd. Some working a punk rock steez, others with stunner shades and tipped fedoras, and a few throwback rarities. Almost every performer had something political to say—middle fingers up. I looked around and saw a good percentage of the crowd following along with the lyrics about racism, gentrification, poverty, media, etc. I watched a young white man get all hyped with it and wondered, is he really feeling it or is he down just because hip-hop has become the latest trend? But either way, does it really matter? Have I just become an old hip-hop pessimist? Part of me is wary of the growing mainstream trend of hip-hop. But at the same time, as I watch the crowd roar when Nas attacks Fox and the popular media, I feel hopeful that maybe the new generation will not just listen, but really feel the words and do more than just groove to it.