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How Conscious Rap Lost Its Cool

Devised as either reports from the frontlines or broader poetic examinations of society’s ills, hip-hop artists have, historically at least, been ready and willing to inject a dose of gritty realism into their music. While in some cases, even making it danceable, digestible and successful along the way.

Way back in the day, when the genre was still finding its feet, the first attempt to fuse social awareness with thundering beats came in the form of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message.” Even today, it’s looked at as an insightful time capsule into what was happening in the streets and has been revered for doing so.

But before that, even the forerunners of hip-hop such as The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron were always surveying what was happening around them. And Gil’s case, becoming a global star in the process.

As hip-hop continued to evolve, groups such as Public Enemy, The Roots and Dead Prez infused commentary on the world with accessible music and in the case of the former, even went platinum numerous times over in the process.

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Narrated by: Spencer Pearman
Intro written by: Humble The Poet
Written by: Robert Blair
Edited by: Roman Bill
Music by: Josh Petruccio

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