Progressive rap (or progressive hip hop) is a broad subgenre of hip hop music that aims to progress the genre thematically with socially transformative ideas and musically with stylistic experimentation. Developing through the works of innovative US hip hop acts during the 1980s and 1990s, it has also been known at various points as conscious, underground, and alternative hip hop.
|Cultural origins||1980s–1990s, United States|
Progressive rap music critically examines social issues, political responsibility, and existential concerns, particularly in the context of African-American life and youth culture. Common themes include social injustice, inequality, status, identity, and religion, with discourses around ideologies such as Afrocentricity and Black religiosity. Unlike the genre's more commercially-dominant counterpart gangsta rap, prog-rap artists typically disavow intracultural violence and economic materialism in favor of constructive and educational responses such as consciousness, uplift, heritage, humor, and activism.
Productions in the genre often take on avant-garde approaches and wide-ranging influences, such as jazz, rock, and soul. Examples have included the works of De La Soul, Fugees, Outkast, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar. The music of such acts, especially in the 21st century, has impacted the mainstream sensibilities of hip hop while countering racist stereotypes pervasive in Western popular culture.