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Hip Hop Is Not down with Monsanto

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

And you thought rap was all cars, Riff Raff, and Gucci Mane. Yeah, there's plenty of that, but there are also plenty of rappers still dropping knowledge, as was ubiquitous during Hip Hop's Golden Age - '88  to '95 - and without a hint of irony or romantic nostalgia. I'm thinking Common, Talib Kweli, who was out there arguing with cops and CNN in Ferguson, and the homey Jasiri X. Despite rap's reputation for worst behavior, it's still one of the last, if only, musical genres that counts social studies, history, and science as subjects, even if only as electives.

Hip Hop's latest course offering: genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. There are plenty of controversial and conspiratorial seeds to spread around with this issue. Indeed, for some rappers, GMOs are part of the larger New World Order agenda for global domination by the deity represented on the back of your dollar bill - Behold Some Pale White Pork. Others have approached the debate with gravitas. I'll let Grist's Nathanael Johnson (who I've asked to comment on the songs, below) school you on the real science behind GMOs. Or, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who's picked it apart between chessboxin' matches with GZA. I'm personally GMO agnostic. But some of these rappers have given me some food for thought:

Wise Intelligent of the Golden Age group Poor Righteous Teachers released the song "Illuminati," in 2011, which was a critique of masonic conspiracy theories. He unpacks a lot in this song, but the third verse is where he hammers away at the issue:

Before they collapse the market, they're criminalizing farming/They're silencing you for talking, while turning us all into peasants/Agricultural patents, ConAgra created the famines/ Monsanto's seeds that terminate the natural birthing action/Controlling the food supply, choosing who should live or die/Confusion rules, you choose the lie...