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Conscious Hip Hop

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Honestly, I don't care about the fame
All I want's a little change and to see more positive
— "Light Will Shine", Diafrix

Conscious hip hop or socially conscious hip-hop is a sub-genre of hip hop that focuses on social issues. It is not necessarily overtly political, but it discusses social issues and conflicts. Themes of conscious hip hop include religion, aversion to violence (usually), African American culture and advancement, the economy, or simple depictions of life in the projects/ghetto that reveal the struggle of ordinary people. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five 's "The Message" was an early and hugely influential political and conscious hip hop track, decrying the poverty, violence, and dead-end lives of the black youth of the time.

The audience for conscious rap is largely underground. Most conscious hip-hop artists have not attained the same level of commercial success as mainstream hip-hop, though there are some notable exceptions to this.

Like many cases within music, the umbrella term was originally coined by music audiences and critics rather than the actual artists themselves and has produced considerable backlash in regards to the labeling. Some of the most prominent artists affiliated with the term have been openly critical of the labeling. Conscious hip-hop artists have also been on the receiving end of fan criticism, with people calling them "Ankh Niggas", "Hoteps", and "Sistas with Headwraps" due to some rappers' heavy belief in respectability politics, overbearing black nationalism/feminism, and sometimes fringe/far-right beliefs (typically anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and homophobic beliefs and/or espousing Black Israelite or similar far-right black nationalist viewpoints, i.e. the stereotypical "hotep"). Lupe Fiasco for example, has been hit HARD by this backlash. In an American context, white rappers branding themselves as 'conscious' face almost immediate discredit, due to their perceived tendency to come off as patronising, clueless about Black culture, and arrogant about being one of the 'good ones', though white MCs who dabble in the genre while focusing their skills elsewhere tend to be treated well, and the stigma is less strong in Europe.

Notable Artists