I don’t have any particular expectations that an entertainment medium like rap music should be political.
All music speaks to the politics, ideology and identity of the forces that create them. In 2012 hip hop is a particular series of almost mockable ultra-capitalist tropes. It makes sense that right wing pundits would continue to amplify moral panic out of rap music because most of music and imagery is created to be increasingly outrageous.
The fun part is that twenty years of cultural saturation has shared the tools to make rap music with millions of young people. Quite a few of them grew up and made rap music. Some of them currently make excellent rap music.
I agree with El-P (shown here with Killer Mike). There is a lot of good rap music out there.
The people who make rap music have a certain investment in the art form. Stalley’s new video “Live at Blossom’s” from the Savage Journey to the American Dream mixtape is a good example of the internal reflection about materialism, violence and sexism in hip hop.
Edward Said would call this kind of poetic monologue autocritical. To encourage the listener to layer their own political awareness against books, movies, videos, songs, and unpack the politics represented in the media artifact.
Killer Mike’s rant rap is always excellent. You can basically buy anything he has put out or download any of his mixtapes and you’ll get something quite entertaining from it. Here Killer Mike represents his deep seated loathing for the Reagan era in “Big Beast,” a horror movie/jacker/gore fest. Assists from Bun B, T.I. and El-P in this almost ten-minute mini-movie. Not safe for work.
You could argue that the cannibalism of T.I. and Killer Mike is a thinly veiled mockery of consumers of violent hip hop. David Banner makes those arguments explicit, calling out rap music in a particularly dramatic fashion. Enjoy “Malcolm X” for that critical perspective on hip hop.