The Future of Socially Conscious Music

Lupe Fiasco

Nothing new? Music has always been at the base of all protests and political movements. True! However, the world political landscape is creating an abundance of material for talk show panels, media outlets, and rappers. Remember Chuck D of Public Enemy called hip hop “the CNN of the ghetto”.  Hip Hop is not just a voice for the ghetto anymore as the mainstream has elevated it into world relevance and recognition. Young and old, black, white and brown people are avid fans of hip hop music and now another wave of socially conscious musicians are finding a world of listeners. My hometown of Chicago has shaped the careers of three: Common, Rhymefest and this weeks’ featured artist Lupe Fiasco. Since Chicago is in the middle of the country, many believe it to be a major US city whose citizens have a very different outlook on the world than people from the coastal cities of  New York and Los Angeles. Musicians and definitely hip hop artists’ embrace and reflect that different outlook in their work. Moreover, Lupe Fiasco’s world outlook was most likely molded by his parents as much or more than the city of Chicago.  Fiasco was born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco of West African descent, he was one of nine children of Shirley, a gourmet chef, and Gregory, an engineer. His father, a member of the Black Panther Party, was a prolific African drummer, karate teacher, operating plant engineer, and owner of karate schools and army surplus stores. His parents divorced when he was five years old but his father remained in his life. Fiasco said of his father’s influence, “After school, my father would come and get us and take us out into the world—one day, we’re listening to N.W.A, the next day we’re listening to Ravi Shankar, the next day, he’s teaching us how to shoot an AK-47, the next day, we’re at karate class, the next day, we’re in Chinatown…” Interestingly Lupe Fiasco initially disliked hip hop because of its use of vulgarity, and preferred listening to jazz. An avid Benny Goodman fan, Fiasco loved the clarinet but struggled to learn to play and that led him to create poetry. Fiasco is also noted for his anti-establishment views. In an interview with Stephen Colbert on the satirical news show The Colbert Report, Fiasco stated his credo on political philosophy: “You should criticize power even if you agree with it”. When you calculate all the parts of Lupe Fiasco’s life the sum is what we have now: A very good socially aware rapper. “Around My Way” Lupe Fiasco’s new single is getting a lot of positive reviews from music critics which means he will continue to be a prominent fixture in the hip hop scene. What does the future hold for Lupe Fiasco and the other socially conscious musicians coming behind him?  Keep reading and watching the news around the world. Or keep listening to Lupe Fiasco!

One thought on “The Future of Socially Conscious Music

We would love to hear your opinion