Ok, I admit it. When it comes to music, I love anything with a good beat and so, for all of my feminist bravado, I’m still a sucker for rap, even if it’s demeaning and/or disgusting.
But don’t worry, believe it or not, not all of the rap I listen to is shallow and without value. (I’m looking at you 2 Chainz.) Actually, some of the ~deepest~ songs I know are put out by rappers. Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t. Either way, I highly recommend you put the Taylor Swift on pause for a second and check these out:
“Little Weapon” by Lupe Fiasco
This song creates a really subtle parallel between child soldiers in Africa and kids who play violent video games in America. Lupe’s flow is so melodic that you might miss the whole point of the song if you’re not looking for it, but it’s a fascinating track off of an even more fascinating album. After you’re done with this song, I highly recommend checking out the rest of Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (including and especially “The Coolest” and “Put You On Game”).
“Stand Up” by Flobots
To put it bluntly, this song is just really cool. The violin in it is like ear candy, and even though it’s not about one specific political or social issue, it manages to cover a lot in a really coherent way. “Stand Up” is a social justice anthem to the MAX and if it doesn’t motivate you to get out in your community and do some good, I don’t know what will.
“Tiny Glowing Screens” (Part 1 and Part 2) by Watsky
I might be trying to disguise a slam poem as a rap here, but it still counts: Watsky the poet-turned-rapper is a favorite of mine and I could listen to these particular songs of his for hours on end. They’re like an awesome summary of what it means to be a human/what it feels like to be in love and I dig it.
“Letter” by Wale
“Letter” is a two-for-the-price-of-one, because not only does is it great but, as an added bonus, features the dreamy John Mayer in the chorus. The song is written as an open letter to two figures that have influenced not only Wale himself but the country as a whole: Obama and Tupac. It’s a beautiful song with some very quotable lines and one of my favorites by Wale.
“Crooked Smile” by J Cole
If you listen to the radio regularly, this song might be old and overplayed by now, but I couldn’t not give it a shoutout. The “love yourself” message makes this one of my all time favorites, and a male rapper recognizing how hard it is to be a female in this demanding society gives it extra cool points.