One of the most mind-blowing things about hip-hop is how infinitely adaptable it is. People have made it out of funk and soul, but also from Aphex Twin and yacht rock. It linked up with country just as easily as it did with metal, and half the rappers on the charts these days are basically making electronic pop punk.
From the start, all the way back to its birth at street parties in the Bronx, hip-hop has been both party music and protest music, frequently at the same time. Which makes it feel extra appropriate this particularly weird Fourth of July, where a lot of our relationships with America have become more complicated—and where the disillusion and division in this country are starting to reach Nixon-era levels.
But it’s still a long weekend in the summertime, and there’s no reason not to enjoy it. In that spirit, we put together this playlist of bops from across hip-hop history that will liven up your (safely socially distanced) cookout while infusing it with a little revolutionary spirit. After all, the revolutionary spirit is kinda what the whole day’s about.