What is Hip-Hop
Current Hip-Hop Movement
Justifying Latino History in Hip-Hop Culture
Role of Hip-Hop in Politics
Immigration Pattern and Message Conveyed
Links to Latino Hip-Hop Artists
Lexicon Interview












Role of Hip-Hop in Politics

The hip-hop movement has not only transformed into new genres of music such as reggaeton, but has also influenced the political spectrum. As the youth from the hip-hop movement grow older and obtain the right to vote, their voices are beginning to be heard and will dominate the political landscape. This has already been seen in Detroit's mayoral elections as Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Detroit’s current mayor, defeated Gil Hill. Hill, being 70 years old, represented the old vanguard generation, while Kilpatrick, 32 years old, represented the hip-hip generation. This election was divided by the generation gap that each candidate respectively stood for. The election of Kilopatrick demonstrates that the hip-hop generation is beginning to consolidate its power over the political landscape in order to make political changes that they deem most important (12).

To demonstrate his connection to the younger generation, Kilpatrick used hip-hop to bridge the gap between himself and the young voters. Kilpatrick’s use of hip-hop culture in his political campaign allowed him to gain many young voters that normal political campaigns would not target. For his campaign, Kilpatrick had a rap campaign song and used common hip-hop slang when on stage such as “What’s up, Detroit?” The mayor also uses versus from famous rappers such as Tupac Shakur, demonstrating his link to the hip-hop movement and the youth from which it is composed (13).

The connection that Kilpatrick formed with the hip-hop movement caused a 40% higher turnout of voters from ages of 18 to 40 in comparison to the last mayoral race (14).The important role that hip-hop had in the mayoral elections for Kilpatrick, and the future role that hip-hop could have in politics is mentioned by Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles):

"I think that this mayor has an opportunity to help forge a new political agenda, and he has an opportunity to bring a lot of young people into politics," Waters said. "Much of hip-hop culture is born out of rap about conditions of the cities, the problems, the police abuse and all of that. The rappers have helped to describe what's wrong in our society and the need to address it. That's a natural lead to politics and public policy. Now with people like the mayor becoming part of the political process, it should all come together, to converge (15)."

Kilpatrick, known as the “hip-hop mayor,” is the youngest mayor that Detroit has had in the last 300 years and has a closer connection to the residents of Detroit than its previous mayor (16). On the streets of Detroit, Kilpatrick is known as “Kwame” while the previous mayor was referred to as “Mayor Archer”. Furthermore, Kilpatrick makes regular appearances at the local hip-hop radio station for his program “Ask the Mayor”, which allows him to interact with the people of Detroit. The mentioned examples demonstrate Kilpatrick’s ties to the locals of Detroit, the hip-hop movement and new urban politics, in which candidates can use hip-hop to relate with the residents of the city (17).