Zanoni is a hip-hop artist making waves in the current music stream. His work is “conscious hip-hop” and he is pushing to replace gangsta rap and make rhyming about spirituality, philosophy, and politics cooler than rapping about guns, money, and disrespecting women.
When asked about the term “conscious hip-hop” he doesn’t deflect. Rather, the young artist takes his passions head-on:
“It could even simply involve clever wordplay or creative braggadocio that doesn’t degrade others or our culture in general. I see hip-hop merging into a combination of the best of spoken word/poetry with hip-hop beats. This has been going on for some time now: Saul Williams and Sage Francis being two great examples.”
Zanoni continues on, describing the difference between work of gangsta rap and more commercial fare versus more poetic work. Also explaining that in the past the poetic work has been more commercial and that way can and should return:
“The hope is that such an approach of combining good writing with head-nodding beats will become the standard and that those who can’t write won’t be heard. I see no reason why the most talented lyricists should remain ‘underground’. The argument that only dumbed-down music sells simply isn’t true. The most timeless music often has a bit of depth. For instance, an intelligent singer-songwriter such as Paul Simon can sell out massive venues whereas most of the best emcees are unable to pack a stadium simply because the radio refuses to play them.”
“Listening to Paul Simon takes my mind to a similar poetic space that someone like Saul William, Sage Francis, the emcee S.K.I.P., or Gift of Gab from Blackalicious can bring me to. The vibe is definitely different, but the words seem to activate the subconscious in a similar way.”
This is part one of a two-part series featuring conscious hip-hop artist Zanoni. Return tomorrow for part two.