I thought it might be relevant to go even deeper into this rap history myth Minister Farrakhan (among many others) apparently still clings to by looking into the histories of the artists he holds up as the models for “conscious” rap.
We’ll start with the artist with the oldest recorded example of the three he mentions: Public Enemy. Before Public Enemy ever existed, conscious rap champion Chuck D was part of the short-lived group Spectrum City, whose lone single featured this completely non-social-change-oriented track.
Spectrum City – Check Out The Radio
Now before anybody comes at me about omitting the B-Side of this record, entitled “Lies“, I would encourage you to actually listen to the lyrics of that song before simply assuming that it’s a proto-Public Enemy track about the government misleading the population or something along those lines. When you really listen to what’s being said in that song, most of its critique of falsehood stays extremely vague and general, and there are almost no references to the kind of stuff you’d expect from a late-80s Chuck D verse from a song called “Lies“. The longest continuous concept in that song actually deals with being misled in a personal romantic relationship, not by a malevolent power structure. It’s clear hearing these examples that even these paragons of socially responsible art didn’t start that way, it was a direction chosen after a period of making the same kind of stuff that the first MCs ever made.
Also, there’s this song.
Public Enemy – Sophisticated Bitch
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment featuring KRS-One