Does Hip Hop Culture Have The Power To Challenge Social Injustice?

Posted on January 7th, 2016
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Throughout the years, controversy surrounding hip hop music and its culture has been in the forefront of the media. From the hype of the East Coast and West Coast rivalry, to the critics who are quick to point out rap’s violent lyrics, it’s been a topic of discussion. When the outside public hears that hip hop can save lives, they usually give us confused looks, blank stares, or consecutive eye-rolls. However, the truth is that they are missing the point of many essential messages.

There are many messages that hip hop can execute to fight against racism, sexism, and other forms of injustices within society. First, one must clear out everything they may think they know about the culture and its representation. Erase all of the auto-tuned, culture-less, and dance beats that have been sold to you through the genre.

These claims sound outrageous, right? Not exactly, as deconstructing mainstream hip hop starts with understanding how the culture has been appropriated, and turned from a force that challenged the status quo of traditional mainstream. History shows that hip hop originated out of the lack of opportunities for poor minority youth. It became a reality of a white supremacist legacy which included shutting people out, whether if it was from higher unemployment or incarceration rates. Hip hop became a culture which gave these people opportunities of financial and cultural creativity.

Robin D.G. Kelley, a critical scholar who studies the culture of hip hop once used the term “play-labor” to describe how African-Americans and other youth of color use hip-hop as a means of hustling, making money, and surviving.


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