We all have our ideas of how this world should be. But we can’t seem to find motivation and inspiration to make a change. Here are five songs that will encourage you to take a stand.
Brother Ali, “Us”
There is a reason why Brother Ali will be lecturing about Hip Hop’s part in human rights, justice and the world wide struggle for peace at the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize forum in Minneapolis. He takes the responsibility of being an influential MC seriously and delivers songs of substance with meaningful messages. He says the purpose of his music is “To try to open ears and hearts and invite people to take some action and feel empowered. To be engaged and take some agency and responsibility for what’s going on in the world.”
With “Us” the albino rapper is teaching us about knowing who we are and to look past race and religion, while building up from a simple a cappella rap, to a powerful orchestrated piece accompanied by a choir.
Reflection Eternal, “Ballad of the Black Gold”
Reflection Eternal is what happens when rapper Talib Kweli collaborates with Dj Hi-Tek to produce musical awareness of political issues that move the world. The album title “Revolutions per Minute” is best described by the artist himself: “It’s the idea that people in today’s culture take things in YouTube-sized bites and if it’s not in a clip or a soundbite or something that you can fit in under a minute, people don’t pay attention to it. The idea is: How many revolutions can you get accomplished in under a minute in a quick culture?” Listen to this song about the oil crisis, the greed and murder it results in and you will agree that the short video is plenty enough time to accomplish their goal.
Pete Philly & Perquisite, “Hope”
This Dutch Duo has won award after award and is internationally known for their conscious Hip Hop. Talib Kweli collaborated with them for this track and that alone is award enough. This song convinces you that it is time to listen to your heart, act upon the need for change that has been growing inside you and let the world know about it. When my self-pep talk isn’t motivation enough, this song always pulls me out of my funk and motivates me to keep working toward making a change in my own life.
Nas and Damien Marley, “Patience”
The sons of singer Olu Dara and reggae artist Bob Marley got together for their remarkable album “Distant Relatives”. The collaboration of Hip Hop and Reggae, and particularly of artists Nas and Damien Marley is a legendary contribution to the music world.
“Patience” really digs deep into the issues of imperialism and is looking at the meaningless and absurd state our world seems to be stuck in. The song points out how all the technology we have is really not making us progress to be better humans but makes us loose sight of what is truly important. If this song doesn’t make you shake your head and then go start a revolution, then I don’t know what will. I saw them perform this song live and I can still feel the goosebumps crawling across my skin.
Immortal Technique, “Leaving the Past”
This rapping human rights activist, humanitarian and revolutionary is traveling the world to form and voice his opinions about oppression, religion, poverty and politics. Displeased with the prison system he also teaches history to juvenile inmates in order to give them a chance to turn their life around. He considers his music Reality Rap. And his lyrics are as real as they get, leaving many uncomfortable with the truth he just put on them. Immortal Technique refuses to conform to the mainstream music industry and even encourages his fans to bootleg his music just so his messages can be spread. In this song he urges the importance of questioning where your information comes from, questioning the history books and in the end, leaving it all in the past to make your own opinion and move on.
Brother Ali quoted Fannie Lou Hamer in his song “Us” and said: “Nobody can be free, unless we’re all free.” Freedom comes from an individual’s drive to make a difference in this life. And sometimes we have to fight for that. It just takes one little spark to ignite the desire. Music is the spark that starts the biggest fires, capable of burning down the world as we know it and transform it into what it should be. Listen to it. Let it inspire you and go change the world, starting with your own.