Political rap songs are a timeless staple in the genre. The roots of it continue today as tales are told of the Black experience in a myriad of ways. With political rap songs, rappers have used poetry to detail struggles and inspire those going through them. These songs are meant to bring attention to situations many already know, but some may not be. As the years have passed, rappers have created political rap songs with various perspectives, atmospheres, and styles. Some opt for an energetic and positive approach while others craft aggressive ones, but both often become anthems. They force the listener to look at the world around them and realize that many things are wrong, but something can be done. We’ve gathered 11 of the best political rap songs in this list.
11. “Kill Us All (K.U.A.)” – Meechy Darko (2022)
This political rap song touches on the black experience in America and America overall. Meechy Darko is from the trio Flatbush ZOMBiES and they have had multiple verses/songs where they speak on the corruption of America. In this solo cut, Meech handles all aspects of his commentary. His hook is almost an anthem as the background vocals shout and echo it as he delivers it.
The song’s subject matter includes multiple topics like government corruption and the hypocrisy of America. He speaks from a place of observation and hope as the hook reiterates no matter the situation, there will still be Black people who can rise up and change it. Meech’s unique raspy delivery style helps all of his words stand out, and he covers so much that pressing rewind to catch it all is entirely understandable.
10. “The Bigger Picture” – Lil Baby (2020)
This is a political rap song with strong ties to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lil Baby is not an artist most people associate with songs like this, so it surprised his listeners once it dropped. It helped reshape his image in a big way. The authenticity behind the lyrics and the song itself contributed directly to this. The song opens with soundbites of news coverage of the protests happening all over America at the time. Lil Baby proceeds to give his commentary on the state of the black experience in America. However, in his vulnerability, he admits he may not have all the answers to solve it and his perspectives are not all-encompassing. He also speaks directly to anyone who may disapprove of the song because of his other music. He shares that all that matters is that a change happens.
9. “Lockdown Remix” – Anderson .Paak feat. JID, Noname, & Jay Rock (2020)
This is a political rap song that centers around two topics in American history: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the protests that were happening during it. However, this track does not sonically sound like the other protest anthems on this list. It’s much more relaxed, which shifts the tone but also brings attention to the lyrics.
With minimal drums and melodies, everyone’s verse sticks out and focuses on their chosen delivery as they comment on what’s happening in the world around them. Each featured artist discusses the overlapping subject matter, but how they approach it is what sets them apart. J.I.D’s verse is more confrontational, while Noname’s has her connecting metaphors. Jay Rock’s verse is filled with questions about the country and its people as he shares events that involved them. .Paak’s hook is the through-line for them all as he discusses the state of protests during the pandemic.
8. “LAND OF THE FREE” – Joey Bada$$ (2017)
This is a political rap song that doesn’t sound aggressive, but its impact is still strong. In this song, Joey discusses the hardships and trials of the Black experience in America. He views himself as someone who has the power to make a change and lead and inspire others to do the same. However, he is a victim of the same situation as those he wants to empower.
The music video for this song is one that makes the message stand out even more. It features white men in police uniforms shooting unarmed People Of Color. In the same scene, Joey stands in between them and blocks the bullets. In one of the final scenes, members of the KKK are depicted, and they remove their hoods and put on police hats.
7. “The Blacker The Berry” – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
This is one of the more aggressive-sounding political rap songs on this list. It sounds threatening and ominous because Kendrick speaks from a place of frustration. Guitars and almost militaristic drums blare from the production while its final moments contrast with peacefulness. His verses pair with the hook from Assassin well.
The hook has double entendres that connect two different generations of the Black experience in America. Meanwhile, Kendrick’s verses focus on the current generation and the many trials that come up with it. His delivery echoes the anger felt by many Black Americans, and it’s easy to tell Kendrick is pulling from his own experiences, too. His third verse dives into the stereotypes placed on black people and concludes with a purposely hypocritical and thought-provoking question.
6. “Tonz ‘O’ Gunz” – GangStarr (1994)
This political rap song is another one whose relevance remained throughout all the years since it was originally released. This time the message is an anti-violence one for the Black community. Guru speaks on the gun-based crimes going on in communities of all kinds and how it needs to stop. His verses are accurate to the multiple facets of why it happens in the first place.
He speaks about people feeling empowered but also feeling the need to protect themselves amidst the situation itself. His delivery, however, is relaxed as usual, as if he’s conversing with the listener, not lecturing them. DJ Premier’s production adds some siren-like screams which echo the type of sounds one would hear during and in the aftermath of a gun violence-based crime.
5. “F*** Tha Police” – N.W.A. (1988)
This is another iconic political rap song. The song’s title tells the message behind it in the most direct way possible. No creative allegories here. N.W.A. never sugar-coated their messages, and this is one of the biggest examples of that. Once again, the message in this song is still relevant today because the police are still killing innocent Black people. In this song, the group recounts the hostility the police had towards them and their responses to it. They all discuss how the police feel empowered with their guns but N.W.A. knows the situation would be different if they shot back. There are skits sprinkled throughout the song, with the final one depicting a policeman being convicted for his racist acts.
4. “Ladies First” – Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love (1989)
This is a political rap song that focuses on women’s empowerment. While women are critically acclaimed in rap today, this was not always the case. Queen Latifah and Monie Love were two of the most popular women in the rap game of their time. In this track, they detailed exactly why they were at the level they were at. This song focuses on their importance in the rap game and empowers women. Their verses describe the importance of women in society throughout the years and in their own lives. They trade verses as the song progresses, with some call-and-response moments and other fun exchanges. The song’s hook is simple but reinforces its theme with its harmonious repetition.
3. “Changes” – Tupac (1998)
This political rap song holds a mirror up to the state of America. In this song, the sample is a hook highlighting the connecting thread of Tupac’s verses. As he raps, he discusses the Black experience in America and the results of how these problems didn’t affect him when he was younger. He also speaks on how the country treats Black people and how Black people treat each other and finds issues with both. Sharing his takes on both of these gives the song multiple layers. Tupac takes an observational stance on most topics but delves into empowerment in his third verse and what he wants to do personally to combat the oppression. The song has a certain lightness provided by the sample, but Tupac’s three verses still stand out with timeless relevance and importance.
2. “Self Destruction” – The Stop The Violence Movement (1989)
This is a political rap song centered on a message of anti-violence. While the original Stop The Violence Movement was a supergroup formed only to release this song, other reiterations have formed as the years passed. It was a direct response to a series of violent situations at rap shows in the late 1980s and the death of Boogie Down Productions member Scott La Rock. KRS-One founded the collective and brought together over ten artists for the track. These artists included Public Enemy, Heavy D, Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, and more. Each member shares a message about how violence in the Black community has no positive outcome. The song came at a pivotal moment when the media scrutinized rap and hip-hop and showed the world that it had several positive aspects.
1. “Fight The Power” – Public Enemy (1989)
This is one of the most popular political rap songs of all time. It was released in 1990, but its relevance is still high today. This is sad because it shows how many of the issues mentioned in the song are still happening. Yet, that’s exactly what makes the song timeless, too. The song’s titular hook has become an anthem for those taken advantage of, harmed, or exploited.
Public Enemy discusses the trials of the Black experience in America. Chuck D’s first two verses focus on the unification and empowerment of Black people to stand up for their rights. While it’s not quite a violent or aggressive stance, it certainly is a confrontational one. His third verse condemns figures from white culture and how Black figures should be celebrated like they are.