Political Views in Music

Political views in music are often found, but whats the reasoning behind it?

Music is everywhere. 99 percent of the places you go, will have some kind of music. Because music is so widespread, it’s not uncommon for artists to place their political views and ideas into the lyrics to spread knowledge to a listener. But the question is, does this really have an effect on the listener, or is just filler?

One of the best examples of artists inserting their political views into their music comes from the 90s rock band Rage Against the Machine or RATM. Their hit songs include “Killing in the Name,” “Bullet in the Head” and most notably “Bulls on Parade.” RATM has never been afraid to stand up for what they believe in. In 1993, the band stood naked at Lollapalooza to protest musical censorship. RATM also caused a small riot at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Leo Schunn

 “It’s quite obvious that they are passionate about what they believe in and that resonates with the listener and makes them passionate,” Leo Schunn, sophomore, said about RATM’s use of politics in music. These examples are only few of the true impact RATM had on its listeners.


Rage Against the Machine performs in front of their fans Richard Johnson/NME


Another group known as Public Enemy is also heavily involved with political music. Although the group hasn’t caused a stir like RATM did, they gave a musical genre meaning. Rap was seen as nothing more than nonsensical lyrics about drugs, women, and money, often including homophobia and sexism. Rap was nothing more than short term entertainment. Until, Public Enemy came on to the scene and started using current political topics as substance for their music.

”I think it’s one of the best ways to get your voice heard,” sophomore Nick Douglas, said about the use of politics in rap.

Public Enemy’s music also was a big inspiration for other artists at the time, seen by Tupac Shakur’s letter to the lead singer. It’s clear that Public Enemy had a big influence on Tupac and other 90s hip-hop artists

Nick Douglas



Public Enemy performs in 2013 










Through these 2 examples, it’s clear that politics have a huge impact on music. From the listener themselves or to other artists, music will always be a way to express values and opinions.