This is part of The Shadow League’s yearly Black History Month In Focus series celebrating Black excellence in sports and culture.
Hip-Hop has long been an expression of Black culture in its rawest form, and Black History Month is a time when the genre shines because of its cultural impact on the world.
As Hip-Hop continues to embrace its status as a multi-billion dollar business, rap gentrification is still polluting and diluting what the art has truly meant and turned it into profit.
So here are The Shadow League’s Black Hip Hop classics that take it back to the origins
Kendrick Lamar — HiiiPoWeR
HiiiPoWeR salutes the Black Panther Party’s resistance against poverty and recognizes the differences in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr’s quest for equality. Lamar’s views align with Black Panther Party co-founders Huey Newton and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Acknowledging that taking the approach of Martin Luther King Jr. would make his mother happy, he refuses to turn the other cheek or buy into the non-violent movement. He represents the voice and temperament of the current generation. .
Visions of Martin Luther staring at me
If I see it how he seen it, that would make my parents happy
I can’t turn the other cheek”
HiiiPoWeR salutes the Black Panther Party’s resistance against poverty and recognizes the differences in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr’s quest for equality. Lamar’s views align with Black Panther Party co-founders Huey Newton and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Acknowledging that taking the approach of Martin Luther King Jr. would make his mother happy, he refuses to turn the other cheek or buy into the non-violent movement. He represents the voice and temperament of the current generation.
Intelligent Hoodlum — Black and Proud
When he first hit the scene in the early ’90s, Tragedy Khadafi was known as the Intelligent Hoodlum because he was a street dude from Queensbridge but had wisdom beyond his years. Khadafi rode this throwback beat like a new age freedom rider. He expressed the ghetto struggles of modern-day kings and queens who survive under duress and remain proud of their incomparable history.
“Cause he wants to mold me shape me and carve me, but I use my mind like Marcus Garvey..”
Dr. King was a man with a new fate.
They got rid of him, now that’s the last date.
Klu Klux, the man of a clan.
Called to crucify the intelligent Black man.”
RUN DMC — Proud To Be Black
Run DMC tore down The Apollo with this one, letting everybody know exactly who they are and how they feel about racial issues in this country.
“You know I’m proud to be Black y’all and real brave y’all and muthafucker I could never be a slave yall.
So take that !..
Now Harriet Tubman was born a slave. She was a tiny black woman but she was brave…
Like Malcolm X said, I won’t turn the right the right cheek. Got the strength to go the length if you wanna start beef.”
Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, Nas — My President Is Black (Remix)
Black America was riding the high of Barack Obama‘s historic rise to the Presidency. The music reflected the social high that people of color were on and Black pride oozed from the Billboard charts.
This All-Star collaboration is strong. Each rap legend bodied the beat with a powerful message for the country that resonates today. Nas let you know that before Obama, “a President never meant shit to me.” Jeezy went all out, giving shout-outs to Jackie Robinson, Booker T., and Sidney Poitier.
“My president is Black
My Maybach too
And I’ll be goddamned if my diamonds aint blue
My money’s dark green and my Porsche is light gray
I’m headed to DC anybody feel me?
My President Black in fact, he’s half white.
So even in a racist mind, he’s half right. If you have a racist mind you’ll be alright.
My President’s Black, but his house is all white.
Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk.
Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run.
Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly.
So Imma spread my wings, you can meet me in the sky.
The Miller Boyz — Black History
Rap icon Master P and his son Romeo mention several prominent blacks such as Bessie Coleman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Medgar Evers. Master P displayed his full evolution from street hustler to music mogul to mouthpiece for social injustice. He rapped about the advancements of African-Americans in the country and the work that lies ahead.
Master P starts the song with a talking intro.
“With Evolution… Comes Revolution
With Slavery… Come Freedom
Pick up your history book and see
How my people was able to create
Doctors, Lawyers, Leaders, Soldiers, Pro Athletes
We came a long way
But we got a long way to go”
King Dream Chorus’ — King Holiday
Dropped in 1986, King Holiday is still the best musical celebration of Dr. Martin Lurtin Luther King’s National Holiday.
The song boasted an All-Star cast of artists across several genres of music, including Whitney Houston, Run DMC, The Fat Boys, Menudo, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, Stephanie Mills and Kool & The Gang. The list drips with Black musical power.
The moment was uplifting and joyous, lauding the Civil Rights triumphs and tribulations of Martin Luther King. Jr. The singers foretold a bright future with unlimited freedom of expression.
“Once a year, we celebrate
Washington and Lincoln on their birth dates
Now a third name is added to the list, a man of peace, drum major for justice…”