Music is the background of our lives. It is something that has existed since the early times of man and has persisted to evolve with us. As it has evolved, it has branched into many directions and genres. No one genre is the same, and every person has their niche for music. Some like metal and heavy metal, others like country and classic rock, and some like rap.
One thing I have noticed is that many like one or two genres and hate a great many others. A good friend and coworker of mine often hits me with a one liner to show his disdain for rap: “Music is like candy… it’s much better once you get rid of the rapper.” Okay, yes, that is a damn clever zinger, but it is far from true. Rap, like any genre, has its own culture.
The main issue people find with rap is that it talks a lot about drugs and women. I hate to break this to you, but rap is far from the only genre to celebrate sexism and substance abuse. (Just ask the Rolling Stones!) And not all rap is about popping xanax and objectifying women.
With that, I’d like to present several rap songs which even rap haters should listen to. I encourage you to listen to all of them twice: once for a taste, second for the beat.
1. “Kidding Me” by Grieves
No matter your music taste, breakups are something we can all agree on. No matter how kind or angry the breakup, it is also sad—and music of all genres helps us get through it. For rap, I chose “Kidding Me” by Grieves, an artist who has a unique style and, if I am being frank, an underestimated vocabulary. Rap haters will appreciate that this song dabbles in R&B, and it also has great instrumentals. From the very beginning of the song, you know it’s going to be a funky beat. The first two words (“Ah, love”) are almost inviting—like he is asking you to come in and sit next to the fire with him for a night of processing about your ex. The entire song is just one big “buzz off” to your nosy former partner.
2. "Black Spiderman" by Logic
Let me tell you something about Logic, who is one of my favorite rappers of all time: he is half-black and half-white and loves equality; he just wants peace and happiness; and he sings about it in a way that opens dialogue. I know a lot of people feel uncomfortable with conversations about equality and justice, especially if they feel the topic is being forced on them, but this song is great for a casual opener to the subject. If you need a hype song that shouts “Let’s love each other” to the world, "Black Spiderman" is your song. Logic pays a lot of attention to the messages of his music: his other songs cover topics like suicide and racial inequality. He’s a down-to-earth guy with good intentions, and he writes excellent music to reflect that.
3. "Sunday Candy" by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
I included this last one because of its capacity to break barriers. Are you a church-goer? Against drugs of any kind? Pacifist? Are you repulsed by the violence found in a lot of rap music? I give you "Sunday Candy", a song by a supergroup whose members include Chance the Rapper and his brother. (Normally, Chance performs solo.) This song is about a mixture of things, but the main message is “Get your butt to church!” Chance has been known to dabble in more "typical" rap themes, but he also sings about his home city and his experience growing up poor; in this song, he and Jamila Woods sing about how great faith can be. I personally am not a person of faith, but I love this song and its theme. My favorite line? Easy: “I’m pessimistic on Monday if I had tweaked and missed you.”
Ting Ting Chen