Rap music, a genre mired in hard beats, quick rhythms, and rapid-fire lyrics, has often emerged as a vocal conduit of social consciousness and political critique. To the uninitiated, it may masquerade as a melange of expletives and ostentatious show of wealth; however, beneath that abrasive veneer lies a rich hive of probing commentary on societal issues. 2020 bore witness to a society plunged in crises, and rap music – the chronicler of our times – didn’t miss a beat.
Unmasking the Beats: Rap Music’s Social Commentary in 2020
2020 was an unpitying year, marred by public health emergencies, racial tension, and economic hardship. Through the layered beats and fast-paced lyricism, rap music artists used their platform to voice the collective consciousness of these challenging times.
In a year marked by a raging pandemic, rap artists like Lil Baby and his chart-topping single “The Bigger Picture” took a stand, lyrically addressing the Black Lives Matter movement, racial injustice, and systemic oppression. His lyrics, "I find it crazy the police’ll shoot you and know that you dead, but still tell you to freeze" incisively called out the contradictory treatment of Black bodies by law enforcement.
Similarly, "Walking in the Snow" by Run the Jewels, released amidst the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, was lauded for its timely social commentary. The song’s chilling parallel comparisons between the present-day treatment of Black Americans and historical atrocities painted a stark image of the persistence of racial inequality.
Power, Politics, and Pulsating Rhythms: Rap’s 2020 Political Manifesto
In tandem with its social critique, rap music of 2020 was also a political manifesto. By intertwining catchy beats with politically potent lyrics, rap artists continued their tradition of challenging the status quo and voicing political dissent.
Eminem’s "Music to Be Murdered By" released in early 2020, contains numerous tracks condemning police brutality, racial discrimination, and political corruption. The track "Darkness" is a scathing critique on America’s gun violence and the political inaction towards it, while "Yah Yah" addresses racial profiling and systemic racism.
Rapper and actor YG made his political stance very clear with his single "FTP (F**k The Police)". The track lambasts systemic racism in law enforcement, echoing the sentiments of the masses during the BLM protests. By utilizing their music as a platform for such potent political critique, these artists underscored rap’s transformative power to challenge and shape the political discourse.
Rap music of 2020 emerged as a powerful vocal channel, echoing the societal tensions, political dissent, and a global health crisis. Despite the harsh drum beats, raw lyrics, and the swagger imbued in its presentation, it demonstrated, more than ever, its innate ability to reflect society’s pulse. It brought to light the systemic societal problems laid bare by 2020, while simultaneously acting as a platform for collective dissent and political critique – thus proving that rap music, beneath its pulsating rhythms and braggadocious lyrics, remains a genre deeply rooted in social and political consciousness.