Barely anyone batted an eye when J. Cole said he was going to send gear to the guy who rushed Donald Trump at a rally while wearing a Dreamville t-shirt. Trump’s behaved like an ass on his Presidential campaign, Cole’s a nice guy; so sending out free merch is both a cool gesture and great PR move. But, look at the incident further and you’ll see yet another reminder that we’re in a peak time for hip-hop as a genre.
Rap started as a method for oppressed African-Americans to have a voice. For years, acts like Public Enemy, Paris, and X-Clan fought for the rights of people who deserved better and demanded exposure of their opinions. After decades of narrow-minded appreciation and fiery national debates, hip-hop is now more mainstream than ever and arguably driving American pop culture. Since that’s unquestionably our society’s biggest fetish and probably our top international cultural export too, our whole country now thrives off rappers. Seeing one represented by a person looking to stand up for himself against someone looking to take away his rights shouldn’t surprise anyone.
This mass adoption of hip-hop, of course, is very ironic. Most listeners of the genre argue how rap is too this or that, complaining about everything under the sun, from Kanye’s bipolar antics ruling their newsfeed to Young Thug’s warbling crooning turning them off new MCs altogether. These debates are endlessly had by purists and casual fans alike. But, when you look beyond the nuances of certain media-fueled artists, hip-hop might actually be in its promised land.
This year’s Grammy winner for Best Rap Album was a socially conscious effort from Kendrick Lamar, one of the most talented and outspoken artists of his generation. Killer Mike’s role as one half of the biggest (and best) rap group around is basically secondary right now to his political schedule, as he uses his passionate voice to continually endorse Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders and place himself on every news outlet in the country daily for a good cause. Then, there’s J Cole again, who’s performing at Democratic fundraisers for Obama, leveraging hoards of passionate fans who listen to everything he says with intent to grow.