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9 Socially Conscious Hip-Hop Songs That Helped Define the ‘90s

Hip-hop acts of the ’90s such as Public Enemy, KRS One, MC Lyte and Sista Souljah utilized their platforms to create socially conscious rhymes. By challenging the status quo, many MCs provided socio-political commentary that garnered widespread attention in the realm of Black nationalism, anti-violence, youth guidance, cultural oppression and political propaganda.

Here are nine songs that went against societal norms and provided a rendering that helped shape and define the hip-hop landscape of the ’90s.

Flavor FLAV and Chuck D and PUBLIC ENEMY

Public Enemy (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

‘Fight the Power’

Named one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 songs that shaped rock ‘n’ roll as well as being chosen as one of Time magazine’s all-time 100 songs, Fight the Power was more than a catchphrase. It served as a revolutionary anthem that examined the modern-day political agenda, encouraged freedom of speech and took a bold stance against the abuse of [law enforcement] power. It was also the theme song for director Spike Lee’s classic movie Do the Right Thing.


Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah, “All Hail The Queen” album cover

‘Ladies First’

Known as the feminist hip-hop anthem, Ladies First encompassed a sense of Afrocentric pride. Rappers Queen Latifah and Monie Love not only promoted women’s equality but set an unprecedented example for female empowerment in support of each another.

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