Essential Playlist: The ultimate ‘conscious rap’ playlist
(Credit: Alamy)


Essential Playlist: The ultimate 'conscious rap' playlist

When we’re talking about hip-hop subgenres, there are so many to choose from. Each has a different tone and texture, and subgenres can form in several ways and have a rich history. In fact, some become so far removed from their predecessors that they become new genres in their own right. However, sometimes subgenres arise due to lyrical content and occasionally even lyrical delivery. An example of this is conscious rap.

Over the years, many different subgenres and terms have been created within hip-hop due to lyrical content. When the genre was first created, almost all records were made with the intention of making its listeners dance with lyrics about parties, dancing, positivity and more.

However, that changed upon the release of ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. This track’s lyrical content was more realistic than optimistic about the predicament of African Americans and was very politically charged. Slowly but surely, more people began to make music like this.

Other acts began to make hip-hop with a similar tone. As it developed, many came up with different names for it; some labelled it as political rap because it addressed political issues, and others marked it as activist rap because it seemed to be made by social activists. Still, over the years, it came to be known as conscious rap.

It was labelled so because those who made it were evidently aware and conscious of social and political issues, whereas many were oblivious to them. Consequentially, it came to be known as conscious rap.

Other kinds of rap have emerged and prospered since, such as gangster rap, mafioso rap and mumble rap. However, conscious rap remains suppressed. Many have questioned why educated, conscious rappers who promote change are not supported to the same extent as gangster rappers by major record labels, but to no avail.

Irrespective of whether or not they are currently held in the same regard as mumble rappers, conscious rappers are a massive part of hip-hop culture, and if they were not present, hip-hop would see an uncomfortable void so as a tribute to conscious rap, we have created the playlist for conscious rap newbies.

The ultimate ‘conscious rap’ playlist:

  • Common – ‘Love Is…’
  • Joey Bada$$ – ‘Head High’
  • Talib Kweli – ‘Black Girl Pain’
  • Lauryn Hill – ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’
  • 2Pac – ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’
  • Common – ‘Be’
  • Joey Bada$$ – ‘Shine’
  • Nas ‘The World Is Yours’
  • Talib Kweli – ‘Get By’
  • Papoose – ‘Black Love’
  • Common – ‘The Light’
  • Pharaoahe Monch – ‘Trilogy’
  • Joey Bada$$ – ‘Waves’
  • Dilated Peoples – ‘Worst Comes To Worse’
  • 2Pac – ‘Do For Love’
  • Lauryn Hill – ‘Lost Ones’
  • Common – ‘Faithful’
  • Joey Bada$$ – ‘Make Me Feel’
  • Talib Kweli – ‘Love Language’
  • Biggie Smalls – ‘Juicy’
  • J Dilla – ‘Won’t Do’
  • Pharoahe Monch – ‘Desire’
  • Common ft Pharrell – ‘Announcement’
  • The Roots – ‘Adrenaline!’
  • Slum Village – ‘Tainted’