One reason why I love Hip-Hop music so much is the magnetic effect it has on my third eye. I'd say from the age of 19, I've been politically and socially aware, and the genesis of all this was a few days after graduating from bootcamp in 1999. I remember arriving in Virginia at Norfolk Naval Base and having to stand pier watch, which was one of the most boring tasks. To kill time, my supervisor suggested I read his copy of William Cooper's Behold a Pale Horse while he did the first round of the watch. Since he explained that this was a book that one really did not have to read in sequence, I flipped through the pages until I found a topic that piqued my interest. One of those topics was Secret Societies; my first exposure to literature about the Illuminati, occults and the "Protocols of Zion."
Up until then, I only heard about such secret communities through Hip-Hop: LL Cool J's I Shot Ya (Prodigy: "Illuminati want my mind, soul and body. Secret society, tryna keep their eye on me"), Mobb Deep's Hell On Earth or Non Phixion's I Shot Reagan. Of course, I really had no idea what they were actually talking about, being that I had no reference material to connect the topics with. That all changed after reading the aforementioned book though. That is when I really started taking interest in what was going on in the world of politics, media, government, etc. Being in the military, you're expected to be held at a certain standard and taught not to bad mouth the government and it's leaders. Well, as you can imagine, I was the polar opposite of all those polished, brainwashed soldiers and sailors. I was definitely a rebel that went against the grain.
During my military stint, we'd have inspections. Sometimes, we'd know about it beforehand, other times they randomly popped up. On one such occasion, my copy of this particular book was confiscated. The book spoke on the oppression of the Japanese, the blanket of racism that was thrown over my people, pre and post World War II, and much more. Really, it was an innocent book that explained the similar struggles that the Japanese and African-Americans faced. I tried with all the power I had to get that book back. Long story short, I fought the law, and the law won, which further grounded my stance against oppression and unfairness.
I had always been a fan of artists like Public Enemy, The Coup, dead prez, Black Star, Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian, etc. After studying up on some of the subjects they spoke on, my appreciation for their music, artistry and what they stood for grew ten fold. It also helped to open doors to similar artists, and from different genres. I grew to love artists like Pink Floyd, The Clash, John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and many of the musicians that made protest music for the Vietnam War. As for modern anti-establishment / socially-aware Hip-Hop, I'm definitely big on Immortal Technique, Brother Ali, Bambu and Hasan Salaam. It's intellectual music; poetry that makes you think, makes you exercise your mind and forms a platform for one to stand on above the rest and peer through the clouds of impenetrable bullshit. Visine for your third eye.