11 Great Hip-Hop Protest Songs
Bacon’s Rebellion. Detroit Race Riots. Watts Riots. L.A. Riots. The Civil Rights Movement. The protests in Ferguson, Missouri are part of a long tradition of American citizens bucking the system. And hip-hop, as the voice of young minorities, has participated in the social outcry on wax (See: J. Cole’s latest song, “Be Free.”) Here, we’ve compiled a list of rap songs that speak out about broken systems. 1. 2 Pac – “Soulja’s Revenge”(1992) “It’s more of us than it is them,” Pac—the son of a Black Panther—raps on this track, as he pushes Blacks to unite and blast back at Five-0.
2. Stop The Violence Movement – “Self Destruction” (1989) Bronx native KRS-One gathered a slew of East Coast rappers, including MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, the late Heavy D and D Nice, to name a few, to drop verses about combating Black on Black crime.
3. Killer Mike – “Burn” (2011) Never the one to hold his tongue, Killer Mike goes in on Barack Obama, the school system, prisons, banks and pastors. If it were up to Killer, he’d burn all that shit down.
4. Public Enemy – “Fight The Power” (1988) If hip-hop had a poster child for saying “F*** the government,” it’s likely that Public Enemy would be its face. “Fight The Power” is just one of many of P.E.’s odes for Black people to link up against conservatives.
5. 2 Pac – “Changes” Pac was good at making you proud to be Black. While Makaveli is known for his government bashing lyrics, “Changes” finds the rap legend encouraging Blacks to stay positive as a way to battle the U.S. government.
6. Killer Mike – “Reagan” (2012) Killer Mike really dislikes politicians. After going in on President Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama and Oliver North, KM raps: “I’m glad Reagan dead.”
7. Geto Boyz – “The Point of No Return” (1996) The Houston trio may be known for that gangsta shit. But Geto Boyz have been consistent with dropping ghetto political commentary. On “The Point of No Return,” the group puts the police on the other side of the 12 Gauge Pump shotgun, Billy Clubs and jail cells.
8. Lupe Fiasco – “Words I Never Said” (2011) This controversial track finds Lupe throwing shots at the school system, budget cuts, War on Terror and President Obama. The Chicago MC was even booted off stage while performing the anti-war song while at an inaugural ball in D.C.
9. KRS One – “Sound of Da Police (1993) The self-proclaimed Teacher warns cops that he’ll get his Huey Newton on and strap up if the government’s henchmen come into his South Bronx hood.
10. Immortal Technique – “Impeach The President,” feat. Dead Prez & Saigon (2006) Here, revolutionary New York MCs call off a list of reasons the president should be impeached.
11. Killer Mike – “Pressure” (2008) Once again, Killer Mike wants them “funky ass politicians” to burn in Hell and catch Aids. He even suggests that they kill themselves while he rants about the system and Uncle Toms.