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Junior+David+Chilemba+%28left%29+and+junior+Rashid+%E2%80%9CRJ%E2%80%9D+Conteh+%28right%29+go+over+lines+for+a+rap.+They+said+they+also+try+to+avoid+using+rap+to+spread+their+political+views.
Junior David Chilemba (left) and junior Rashid “RJ” Conteh (right) go over lines for a rap. They said they also try to avoid using rap to spread their political views.

Junior David Chilemba (left) and junior Rashid “RJ” Conteh (right) go over lines for a rap. They said they also try to avoid using rap to spread their political views.

Teresa Chen

Teresa Chen

Junior David Chilemba (left) and junior Rashid “RJ” Conteh (right) go over lines for a rap. They said they also try to avoid using rap to spread their political views.

Armaan Goel, Reporter

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The 2016 election was one of the most polarizing elections in recent years, leading all groups of people to use different platforms to discuss political ideas. From newscasters to YouTubers, intense discussions happened over controversial issues. Rappers are just one of the groups getting involved with the democratic process. Artists like Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar and Run the Jewels have all chosen to use their large audience to foster political change.

“Honestly, I stay away from it, but I feel like it’s important too because it’s also educating people,” Rashid “RJ” Conteh, rapper and junior, said. “(For) people who don’t watch TV or stay up with politics, maybe one of their favorite artists can tell them a little bit about what’s going on.”

However, political messages in music are not always a good thing. Conteh said including them can cause an artist to run the risk of alienating fans, and make fans feel like their opinion is wrong. This, Conteh said, may lead to fewer fans of the artist.

“We try to keep it as open as possible, because if you are picking one side, you are pretty much shutting down someone else,” Conteh said. “Everyone has a right to their own opinion, and as long as you know what you believe in, but you shouldn’t try to put your beliefs on anybody else.”

Despite this, Conteh said that there are still ways to impact the current situation without directly expressing political views.

“In a way, if something bad is happening with politics, I try to use my music to tell everybody to stay positive and show good vibes,” he said.

However, political messages have been ingrained in rap music since its inception, being used by artists such as Tupac Shakur, NWA and Public Enemy.

“(Politics in rap music) has been around since the beginning,” junior David Chilemba said. “Think of NWA, with the police and everything.”

Conteh said, “Los Angeles actually passed a bill on (NWA) saying they can’t perform a song. And they performed it and got arrested- all because of music though. That’s the crazy part, it’s just music.”

Ultimately, Chilemba said it is important to never take these political messages too seriously, no matter the status of the rapper.

“Never take anything music says, don’t take it for what they say,” Chilemba said. “There are a lot of hidden messages in music, like say if someone was bashing Donald Trump. In reality they may not think he’s that bad of a president. Maybe it’s just one thing, like maybe the wall they don’t agree with, so that’s what really triggered them – they might agree with some points of him. So, I wouldn’t take anything too literally.”

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