House picks highlight social struggles

by Johann Derek Oribello, Senior Staff Writer

With the rise of rap as one of the most dominant music genres in the music industry today, it’s important to acknowledge the influence of black heritage in mainstream, popular culture. Nevertheless, African Americans remain one of the most marginalized groups in the nation. 

In celebration of Black History Month, here are a few songs that highlight the struggles African Americans face and catapulted social and civil issues to the forefront. 

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar

It’s no secret that Kendrick Lamar’s music has impacted listeners as seen with his chorus of his song, “Alright,” being chanted across the nation at various Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The empowering motif behind the hook, “We gon’ be alright/ Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright,” served as a strong mantra displaying hope despite constant pain and struggle. 

Psychology sophomore Mikayla Brown said songs like these can serve as a strong vehicle to carry and promote messages resonating with the youth. 

“Rap has been the most popular music genre for a while now,” Brown said. “Kendrick is seen as one of the best in our generation so it’s not surprising to see songs like ‘Alright’ being used as protest songs.” 

“Be Free” by J. Cole

Released in 2014, shortly after the tragic loss of Michael Brown, J. Cole expressed his painful sentiment many young black men and women shared across the country. Michael Brown was an unarmed teenager who was killed by a police officer and sparked the “Hands up, don’t shoot” slogan for Black Lives Matter protests. The hurt and frustration is clear in J.Cole’s voice as he raps lines such as, “Can you tell me why/Every time I step outside I see my n—as die.” The inclusion of the eyewitness account sound clip from Michael Brown’s friend on the song further enforces the fact that J. Cole, like many African Americans, saw themselves as victims of police brutality like Michael Brown.

“LAND OF THE FREE” by Joey Bada$$ 

Joey Bada$$ made a strong political statement with the release of this song on President Donald Trump’s inauguration day. In it, he makes his stand against inequality in the country by showcasing strong imagery of the racism experienced by African Americans daily. Lyrics such as, “They disorganized my people, made us all loners/Still got the last names of our slave owners,” demonstrate the lasting imprint racism has on Americans even today. 

Anthropology junior Dante Miller said it’s encouraging to hear musical artists politically address issues in their song even if they’re not political.

“I think it’s important for artists to talk about what’s going on politically even if they don’t talk about it in their music,” Miller said. “Rappers like Tupac did in the past, so it’s cool to see people like YG and Joey Bada$$ do the same now.” 

“Cops Shot the Kid” by Nas feat. Kanye West

Last year, legendary rapper Nas dropped one of his most politically-charged tracks where he directly confronts police brutality. Over a minimalist beat laced by Kanye, Nas shares his thoughts on one of the most talked about issues currently in the nation. Lines like, “White kids are brought in alive/Black kids get hit with like five,” bluntly question the racial disparity often put onto young teenagers caught up by the law. 

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