I've recently gotten into a lot of discussions over whether hip hop was, is or ever will be a political movement. Like always, Jeff Chang brilliantly answers the question that I often couldn't articulate:
From Jeff Chang:
"Although many academics have said this, I have never claimed hip-hop began as political movement. I've always repeated the lesson that Kool Herc schooled me in: it simply began as a way for Black youth--African American, Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean--in the Bronx to have fun. No more, no less.
So, identity, yes. Hip-hop is a worldview by now. The National Review is half right.
But here's where they're not. I have always said that it is impossible to separate aesthetics from the world it emerges in. If new-century neocons, or anyone else for that matter, would like to separate the rap and hip-hop arts that they think they like from the living, breathing context that it all issues from--the way they did with rock and roll--they will always have beef from me and the large large fam out here. Aesthetics is not a neutral truth that lives above the people.
People make art. Art represents actual lives. We can disagree about what it means, but no one should ever be able to erase those lives, just so that we can enjoy their labor conscience-free. Even if we buy the art, we don't purchase innocence along with it."