As a gradual segue from the last article about political rap from a Black perspective, I wanted to relate something spoken about on Worldwide Cypher Sundays recently. An artist posted a video response to one shadesradio uploaded from KRS ONE about Hip Hop and religion. The artist posted a rhyme of course, which he felt presented a “political point of view which is similar to KRS-ONE, Public Enemy, Immortal Technique and Dead Prez.” The emcee’s name is Jay Solli or Jay Bonisolli an average looking 22 year-old white kid with longish hair. He fits more of a California-vegan, free-thinker image than a rapper but he has wicked skills on the mic and he’s probably from Texas. His freestyle game is up, and when he spits his political, written verses, he’s at his best. So in relation to the Black August topic of the last article there could be conscious/political rappers who support the promotion of politically-aware music about the United States that aren’t minorities.
Is Conscious Rap Viable?
As a feature artist on the shadesradio.com Sunday show, Jay Solli was discussed on the topic of “what if there were ill rappers that were into conscious, political, rhymes and were White guys?” As we already know, there have been many relevant and powerful so-called conscious rappers, who have re-shaped the tide of hip hop music in the late 80s and early 90s, including the ones Jay Solli compared himself to. Still, there are many others from the past and currently who haven’t even received the adoration and modest mainstream success of artists like KRS ONE or Dead Prez and Immortal Technique. And in the long history of rap there are no real standout politically conscious White rappers at all. Why is that?
Does Eminem’s Success Relate?
In the heights of mainstream rap music right now, you’ll find the most successful White rapper in the history of Hip Hop, Eminem. As proof , notice that Eminem always somehow gets recognition in any modern top 10 rap poll, where none have ever come before. While many critics admit that he possesses exceptional rhyme skills, they note that he would be overlooked like so many others, if not for his skin color. Since the wide-spread critique about Eminem’s success due to his novelty of being a gifted White rapper seems to have worked in the past, could it be repeated? Would people be impressed by another politically aware rapper spittin rhymes about the government? The conclusion on the shadesradio.com show was yes, if he was a White guy.
Would He Be Accepted?
Having a Caucasian emcee rhyming like Immortal Technique or KRS ONE rather than like Public Enemy the way Zach De La Rocha did with Rage Against the Machine would be a novelty and a success. In today’s politically charged environment, sentiments about the illuminati, the New World Order, corrupt governments and FEMA camps would be widely accepted by Hiphoppas and Tea Party activists alike. Right now, it almost a fad to be against the government, when just a few short years ago during the Bush era it was considered unpatriotic. During that era any political speech against the establishment was frowned upon by the media. Now it is celebrated and highlighted. The season is ripe for a mainstream political artist from Hip Hop, but the Black or Latino revolutionary rapper has been done before. Yet as the fast-food media machine latches onto the next ‘hot new thing’, a conscious White rapper could affect the tide of Hip Hop music.
The conclusion on the Worldwide Cypher internet show was that a White political emcee would breathe new life into the genre. The formula would be to pair a solo artist or group with serious conscious emcees from over the years like a KRS ONE, Technique etc.. Through the associations with and initiations into those circles, an artist with true talent like an Eminem would get exceptional exposure and success for himself and the genre.
What About Jay Solli?
Keep in mind that the subject of this article started with a video submission by Jay Solli. His rhyme style, flow and in-depth knowledge of the topics lead to the discussion about what effect a conscious/political emcee could have on modern hip hop music. In many respects Jay Solli has a lot of the right characteristics and skills to reach that plateau of success. Part 1 of his video response called “We the People” is raw and skillful and is surpassed only by part 2 of the song called “The Man Behind the Curtain”. In We the People one ill sequence continues…
“Wall St monsters, Bilderberg evil. Bush and Obama are the people they speak thru. We’re just caught up in, followin’, walking in to our own slaughter, American sheeple. You better wake up or the wolves will eat you. Stalin, Mussolini, Nazi sequel. FEMA death camps where the cops will beat you…” (Jay Solli)
Though his delivery is reminiscent of Eminem, his subject matter is not. To a degree Bonisolli is like a calmer, vegan version of Eminem that rhymes about political topics and can freestyle his off. As a long-time observer, producer and critic of Hip Hop, I would say that a person like Jay Bonisolli has the best chance of pushing the genre of conscious Hip Hop forward even though there are many emcees who have come before him. In the female category, only a female like the old Lauryn Hill could resurrect that much interest in the conscious style of True School Hip Hop. But even then the response wouldn’t compare to when it was some average looking White guy with skills like Eminem… Personally, I’m not against it, or anything that benefits the True Hiphoppa.