What happened to political hip-hop? Those of us old enough to assign meaning to the words “Native Tongues” grew up during an era when spitting meaningful lyrics didn’t mean you were flushing commercial viability down the toilet. Uh, so things have changed a little. The major labels may have Dead Prez, but for the most part it has fallen to underground MCs like Baltimore’s Son of Nun to carry the torch lit by the socially conscious artists of the ’80s.
S.O.N.’s freshman full-length effort, Blood and Fire (Morning Light), unabashedly places the politics of the left front and center. The Charm City MC (a.k.a. Kevin James) laces his lyrical content with the seriousness of issues like the U.S.’s firmly antidemocratic Haitian foreign policy and the injustices of globalization, all while keeping it illy for heads and maintaining a sense of humor about himself.
S.O.N. brings the battle-ready mentality of real hip-hop to the social-justice movement, recontextualizing mainstay rap references about slinging rocks on tracks like “Free Palestine,” where he assumes the identity of a Palestinian, rhyming, “It’s hard to fathom but even harder to manage/I’m a second-class citizen in the land of my origin.”