J. Cole’s “Neighbors” is one song that certainly does not fall short when it comes to representing musical culture. As a Hip Hop artist, J. Cole effectively brings his message to life through a genre of music that originated and grew within the black community and continues to gain popularity throughout society.


I briefly learned the origins and rising popularity of Hip Hop and Rap music in a previous course, and discovered that this genre was aimed to do exactly what J. Cole does in his song “Neighbors”, and that is to protest against the societal system that is tailored for white people’s success. Many songs are categorized as protest anthems, and I found it interesting that this genre’s purpose was to rebel against societal standards. Hip Hop began in the 1970’s as an urban movement in New York City. Hip Hop first became prominent in the United States with the release of the Sugarhill Gang’s song “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, and within weeks of its release, it had become a “chart-topping phenomenon and given its name to a new genre of pop music” (Britannica). Afterwards, the style of music took the world by storm and began to flood the music industry with poetic urban sound.


Hip Hop and rap style was influenced by poetic patterns of recital, and aimed to share stories without the same singing style that many artists used before this time, and still continue to use in music today in other genres. One piece of work, The Last Poets, was a collection of spoken-word artists was the debut album that began all hip hop styles of music. This work is “considered a predecessor to rap music as it is part of the Black Arts Movement” (ThoughtCo).


Along with racial prejudice that faced, and still continues to face, the black community, Hip Hop began as a gateway to bring their community struggles to life and share their stories to the people that burdened them with their hardships. In retrospect, J. Cole’s “Neighbors” was inspired by a real event that occurred within his own life: “Cole’s rented home was raided by a SWAT team on the assumption, allegedly made by his wealthy white neighbors, that there were drugs being sold on the premise” (Capital Xtra). This message was meant to highlight the face that, no matter how successful you are, or how much of a good person you are, these racist incidents that occur to blacks is a never-ending struggle that will face the black community for years to come.


  1. Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. ThoughtCo.
  3. Capital Xtra