The Tonic: Conscious Hip Hop

 Talib Kweli – . His first name, Talib in Arabic means “student” or “seeker”; his middle name, Kweli, in Swahili means “true”. Listening to his rap opens one up to a avalanche of ideas – oftentimes ideas that are deeply held but seldom expressed. Very good Wiki entry about this talented, fire-breathing wordsmith. Check out this recent interview he did with Abby Martin. Intellectual Hip Hop at its best!

Lupe Fiasco –  When I first heard his debut CD “Food & Liquor” I thought he was an incredible rapper that should have received as much radio play as T.I & Nelly back in 2006 (given the payola on today’s plantation radio stations, it aint surprising).  With only four CDs under his belt, Lupe stands amongst the best of all time. He raps as if he’s been around for a while saying stuff like, “Back in my day, women had self-respect and kids wanted to learn stuff!”. This brother is only 32 years old, but his soul must have cycled through this sphere countless times.

Common – This brother here gets all the girls! I think the reason is, unlike many of his contemporaries, Common puts women on a very high pedestal without the cheap flattery.Lines like , “It’s important, we communicate and tune the fate of this union, to the right pitch…I never call you my bitch or even my boo…There’s so much in a name and so much more in you”. Contrast this to the rap song ‘Who Do You Love” by YG (w/Drake) that lit up the Billboard charts: “… that’s why we got so many women…I’m tryna go deep, hit them asscheeks…Bust them guts, make her cum…Bitch, you know the game!” Ah yes….too sad. It is easy to understand why the ladies dig Common & why Hip Hop needs uplifting, conscious artists like him. Waaaay too much trash in the game right now….

M1 – Though most folks don’t know M1 by name, they do know the conscious Hip Hop group Dead Prez which M1 is a member of. His messages are clear & powerfully expressed. This brother reports on what is happening on the dark side of a society haunted by demonic souls. He not only paints a nightmarish picture overhanging darkly across the American landscape, but he also offers prescriptions like healthy living and giving respect to the Earth. I wish more of our young ones tuned into M1’s message of self-discipline, honor & respect. In “Don’t Forget Where U Goin” he writes:

Ghetto children you’re the spark, you’re the energy, you’re the heart

To the granma’s, you’re the glue ’cause you know things fall apart”

.Light for dark times


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