What Was The First Political Rap Song? (Video)

Brother D & The Collective Effort's 'How We Gonna Make the Black Nation Rise?' is considered the first political rap record.

Brother D (whose real name was Daryl Aamaa Nubyahn) was a school teacher in the South Bronx and also a member of the New York Family of Black Science, a revolutionary organization “dedicated to the uplifting of black people and to the acquiring of knowledge and skills.”

In his seminal 1985 book, Hip-Hop: The Illustrated History Of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Grafitti, Steven Hagar tells the story of how the record came together.

“I noticed kids around my block doing rap, but there was no message,” said Nubyahn. “I was teaching math in a vocational training program and I started running some raps for the kids in my class. I made deals with them like, you do a certain amount of work and I’ll rap for you at the end of the period. And they loved that. There was a strong desire in rap records for people to soup themselves up. Big fantasies-folks in their teens talking about my big car, I’m a movie star, I’ve got all the women in the world. People are very materially centered. Something flashes on TV and they have to go out and get it. With the idea of hooking rap up with political information and the practice I got rapping for my students, I began to write.”

Set to a musical track taken from Cheryl Lynn’s disco hit “Got to Be Real,” Nubyahn repeated an angry refrain: “We’re rising up, we won’t take no more! "We’re rising up, we won’t take no more!”

Although it was an explosively effective record, it was far too political to attain wide popularity in hip-hop circles. By 1982, when Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five went into the studio to record their own version of a “serious” rap record, they hadn’t even heard of Brother D and Collective Effort.