Power | Rap & Revolution


Kanye West has a foreshadowing pulse on his generation, rapping, “no one man should have all that power” on the 2010 single POWER off of West’s fifth studio album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” West most likely was speaking of himself and his run-this-town attitude in the music industry. However less than a year after the single was released, government dictators began to fall. What Time magazine called ‘the year of the revolution,’ 2011 began with epic uprisings from youth under 30. The fall of Mubarak and the pressure put on fellow dictators in Arab countries grew out of a generation who share ideals of freedom and optimism of being a citizen over a servant of power.

It is not a new concept that rap and revolution go hand in hand. Rap represents a voice to frustration, and at its heart is a hard-earned fight to the top. Battles and ciphers among smart, enthusiastic minds are an earnest way to gain respect from like minded individuals. Now in a time of YouTube sensations and global conversations, the struggle to speak honestly, emotionally and be heard on a global platform is harder, better, faster, stronger.

For every pissed off wannabe rap star hooligan is a politically focused student battling to improve the world around them. Both are trying to generate change and both are trying to get noticed.

So what is the threat in this open forum battle ground? Frustration? Fear? While dictators like Mugabe are still ruling with zero conscience, fear rips the limbs off of able and eager humans. The success of the recent revolutions can be traced to the internet, a place where privacy is slaughtered by transparency. File sharing songs, event invitations and an instant digital-profile can connect an artist in Washington DC to a citizen journalist in Bahrain, where they can share a context and be united in…well, likely a shared frustration.

The generation leading this new world was too quickly judged as apathetic. Contrary to wide belief, this class known as ‘the facebook generation’ is proactive and not intimidated by power. As the desire for money and fame bleeds out of so many trivial rap songs, perhaps a shift towards desperate excess is being conceived. Unlike Lady Gaga’s fame-hungry love child, this birth explores a potential world where the breakdown of imperial rule is replaced by collaborative communities. Could this lead to utter chaos? After hearing OFWGKTA rant, “kill people, burn shit, fuck school,” I'd argue entropy is already among us. And the future rebels are flipping off haters.

written March 2011