Ever since the earliest origins of hip-hop, the culture and sociopolitical issues have always gone hand in hand. The medium, through rapping, dancing and artwork, was (and still is to this day) used as a means of expressing (and documenting) everything what was happening in the neighborhood. As the culture evolved, it gradually expanded from rapping about poverty and the crack epidemic, to aiming directly at the federal government and corporate America. The great Chuck D said it best when he dubbed hip-hop as “Black America’s CNN.”

Unlike other sub-genres within hip-hop, politically-charged rap music carries a massive range of styles with the same similar message. The songs are used to wake people up to what’s going on all around them by way of either gangsta music with shock value, controversial and powerful messages drawn from Pan-Africanism or hardcore in-your-face style protest music.

Legendary artists like N.W.A. (as a group and solo artists), KRS-One, 2Pac, Public Enemy, Yasiin Bey f.k.a. Mos Def and dead prez are just a few that paved the way for contemporary stars like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Killer Mike, Lupe Fiasco and Big K.R.I.T., among many, many other MCs. And in a politically and racially-charged world we live in, the music is all too appropriate. Especially during this brutal presidential election season.

To this day, the debate still continues about whether or not music artists should comment on political issues or be involved in activism. Well, these rappers who crafted these 20 powerful politically-charged rap songs answer that question for us.

  • "Fight the Power"

    Public Enemy
  • "Georgia... Bush"

    Lil Wayne
  • "Be Free"

    J. Cole
  • "Fuck Tha Police"

  • "A Song For Assata"

  • "My President"

  • "I Wanna Kill Sam"

    Ice Cube
  • "New Slaves"

    Kanye West
  • "Burn Hollywood Burn"

    Public Enemy Featuring Big Daddy Kane & Ice Cube
  • "Police State"

    Dead Prez
  • "White Privilege II"

    Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Jamila Woods
  • "Mosh"

  • "Alright"

    Kendrick Lamar
  • "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)"

    Lupe Fiasco
  • "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta"

    Geto Boys
  • "Holla If Ya Hear Me"

  • "Know Thyself"

  • "N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)"

  • "Early"

    Run The Jewels Featuring Bootz
  • "Mathematics"

    Mos Def

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