Patrick Milescu
FOLK - E295
Professor Orejuela
Short Writing Assignment #2
For years, music has been an effective platform for advocating perspective and sending a message for the common purpose of connecting people who believe in a certain cause. Historically, hip-hop has served as a genre that speaks against the social injustices that occur in our culture that may not get the public attention deserved. According to Tom Green, hip-hop entered an essential stage in the late 1980\'s known as the "Golden Age," when the genre was known for its diversity and innovation. In addition to swaying political opinion and quickly becoming a prominent cultural force, hip-hop began to gain increasingly influential power as time went on, (2004). Although some of these characteristics can still be found in some hip-hop or rap of modern times, there is a definite disillusionment that surrounds the genre now, which wasn\'t present in hip-hop\'s Golden Age. The most reoccurring element that still exists in today\'s hip-hop that is most effective is the theme or concept of using rap as protest music. Speaking out against issues that mat not be morally correct, or protesting, is still very common in modern hip-hop and utilized by many popular artists like J. Cole, for example.
Addressing the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown, North Carolina rapper J. Cole is one of many hip-hop artists to use the genre as an effective platform for voicing an opinion or protesting. "Be Free" is a song dedicated to the cultural atrocity that took place in Ferguson and that continues to take place around cities inside and outside of the United States. Written in response to the police murdering an unarmed African-American teenager, the shooting ignited nationwide controversy about racial profiling and police abuse. The song ‘s refrain reinforces this cry of protest and states "All we want to do is take the chains off / All we want is to do is be free." This line is a unique example of a blend of old and modern hip-hop, reflecting J. Cole\'s personal style, which is heavily influenced by older hip-hop. Cole\'s approach in this song is interesting because the lyrics are written in a way that accentuates his ideas very openly so that his words are spoken and heard very clearly. J. Cole places his verses carefully and speaks his words in some parts instead of rapping to collaborate perfectly with the minimalistic approach the beat uses as well. He openly speaks a few times throughout the track, evidently voicing his own personal opinion, saying things like "Don\'t just stand around." He adds in these little bits of self-expression throughout the track, fitting them in with the simple beat to enforce the concept of genuine protest.
Protesting through music can be especially effective when it comes to societal matters like race because of the potential to influence change in people that can\'t be reached through other media. Regardless of whatever equality exists in this country, there are still unjustifiable acts committed because of racial prejudices every day. There is nothing in the constitution which states that an African-American or any one of a different race should be living "..In a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise," (Garza 2014). Hip-hop does not only help to portray these messages in a creative way in which people can understand them, it serves as a catalyst for the positive change needed to help the world find its way. Racial diversity shouldn\'t be such a divided issue, and hopefully through universal platforms such as music helping to change the opinion of the public eye, there can be noticeable change. Racial issues in this country need solving and a lot of people just don\'t want to talk about it publicly, which is why hip-hip is so essential to making sure issues like Ferguson are given the appropriate amount of attention.
Some might disagree with this, debating that hip-hop is not an effective platform to voice opinion or protest for change. However, this is simply inaccurate because there is always infinite potential for change, and with the audience that can be reached, it is highly likely that it can be influential to a group of people. For someone who is not a college student, it may be