Over the years hip hop has clearly made its case for being one of the most powerful outlets for positive messages. From the very beginning when Public Enemy was screaming Fight the Power to the recent Lupe Fiasco song, Bitch Bad. Rappers like Eminem and Kanye West have inspired us over the years with uplifting songs that make us want to do better with ourselves. Eminem in 2002 with Lose Yourself, a song that begs you to try your hardest to success. Kanye West had his single Stronger a few years ago that told you to keep your head up and get through the tough times. Those are all positive songs, but the ones that we have on this list are culture based. These rappers point out flaws in the way that the world is working and how we can change it. All of these songs are great arguments for the positive that hip hop can do to change minds and hearts.
Ludacris – Runaway Love
Ludacris has had many songs over his career that have had message and feeling but this feels like one that really drove home his ability to convey a message in a song. The song Runaway Love with Mary J Blige tells the story of little girls that have grown up being abused by their mother’s lover and ignored by the world. What really gives off the message on the track is that Luda gives a vivid scene and transcribes to us what would be happening and why they feel like they have to escape. The lyrics tell the story in a way that we can relate to the young girls and feel for them, lyrics like “Forced to think that hell is a place called home”. Each verse depicts how naive young girls are transformed to take these demoralising actions in the search to feel better about the life that they are in. What also makes this song so riveting is the fact that it happens daily. It’s one of those issues that touch every family in modern society, but itâ€™s very difficult to speak about. Ludacris took this hard subject and made an amazing song.
Jay Z – Minority Report
Jay Z is always preaching to the youth to stay away from the street. Once a crack dealer, Jay Z almost seems to glorify the lifestyle through double entendres and visual images of dealing. He always makes sure to explain the desperation of being from a ghetto community. How limited his options were and how he doesn’t want the youth to go through the same things he did. That’s why when Jay Z releases the classic “Minority Report” in 2006. It was of no surprise that he was angry at the treatment of lower income minorities after the horrible Katrina disaster. He takes very astute shots at the president and other political leaders. He’s also introspective and self critically raps “I didn’t give my time, so I didn’t give a dime.”
Lupe Fiasco – The Instrumental
Lupe fiasco is one that has been blackballed by all the major labels and certain rappers as being one person that really addresses issues and speaks their mind. If he has an issue or something he will bring it up and make his opinion known. The song Hurt Me Soul is a vintage example of Lupe Fiasco’s ability to tie a story in with making a bold statement. “Now I ain’t tryna be the greatest, I used to hate hip-hop… yup, because the women degraded, But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it, A hypocrite I stated, though I only recited half, Omittin the word “bitch,” cursin I wouldn’t say it, Me and dog couldn’t relate, til a bitch I dated, Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike, But learnt it from a song I heard and sorta liked.” He talks about the importance of school programs for kids and how drug dealing is a big part of city life. There’s a lot of intricate rhyme schemes that make this song even more clever than it is. At the end Lupe Fiasco goes on a rampage against all the worlds ills. A must listen for any hip hop fan.
Tupac – Changes
Tupac Shakur was nothing less of a rap mogul. With many legendary tracks with some emotion and positive message, but we are going to talk about his song Changes. He talks about how bad our culture is referring to the way we perceive people that work the streets and in the “hood”. The lyrics are so true because it is happening everywhere. The police are racist and caught on camera beating people because of the colour of the skin and being treated unfairly in comparison to others and the way that we grow apart from those close to us. “How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?” & “Learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of 2 distant strangers.” Had such an impact that resides in the listeners and the song addresses those problems head on and Tupac talks about changing the way we are because it’s not working as it should be.
Jadakiss – Why
Jadakiss is another one that can put a message in his songs and deliver it well and we are going to go into depth on the song Why? A song about why things do or don’t happen. But not in the way as to explain these things because that is the point. He is trying to say that we don’t know why these things happen and don’t happen for people. Some people are luckier than others and in the greater scheme of things some bad things may need to happen for the course to be taken, is it fate? The significance of this song is that he manages to ask all these questions throughout the song trying to show that we all need answers that cannot be provided by us. To show that everyone is asking questions to the things in their lives and how it’s going to pan out but we will never truly know why to most things in our lives that affect us.
If I ruled The World
With the release of his album recently that inspired to put in the Nas song If I Ruled The World. The song is also referred to as (Imagine) because of what the lyrics are referring to. Nas talks about a world where we have more freedom to do the things we want to do in life. Where we enjoy more of our lives without having restrictions. He talks about the world and the pitfalls that we succumb to and eradicating them completely and making the world better for everybody to cohabit in happily. The lyrics “If I ruled the world, imagine that, I’d free all my sons” show us that everyone no matter what stature can imagine and let their mind wander into unknown. That if people really all wanted to change we could and have more of the happiness all over the world opposed to wars and fighting and discriminating colour.
Common – The Light
Common is no stranger to the music world and one of the rappers that can attack a subject not head on but still make it known what he is talking about. His song the light is about women and the way that they are treated by some people in the world as well as referred to in the rap or hip hop community. This sort of ties into the essence of the Lupe Fiasco song “Bitch Bad” in the way that women are equals are should be treated like that and not made to feel beneath us. He talks about how amazing this girl is and that she is his queen. This is one of the first songs of it’s time to bring women into the light where he wants to help. There shouldn’t be a correlation between the word bitch and a woman and that the level of respect should remain the same in a relationship and let them know you are there for them.
Slick Rick – Hey Young World
Slick Rick has been in rap music for a long time growing up into seemed to have an impact on him and what his songs would say about the messages they deliver. One of the most influential tracks he wrote was “Hey Young World” This track goes into the depths of how we are as people and the bad decisions we all make. The moral of the message is that we are in a young world that is still growing and we all make mistakes in our lives but that is what crafts us and the way we are. To do the back and forth throughout the song and talk about how we are still growing to become wiser and more thoughtful with our actions but it takes mistakes to get there. He showed that you didn’t need to have the most intricate lyrics to convey a story with meaning, just that you had to have determination and the heart to do it.
Talib Kweli – Get By
Talib Kweli is the next rapper’s song we will go into, into this instance we will talk about his song “Get By”. The message behind this song is that we all go through things. That we all have things that we do and make choices to do, in our lives that help us in what he is calling “getting by”. These choices make it easier to get through the pains of life. They help other people to understand why we do the things we do and how it is helping us in a specific way just to get by. Some people need to scrap everything they have to get by. Some people have everything and still need drugs and other actions that stand out to get by because at one point we were all on the same level and we all have the understanding to get by. This song carries its weight because of the fact that it is simply true, we do things just to get by, to try and live the best lives we live. “Work ’til we break our back and you hear the crack of the bone” Itâ€™s a hard world to live in and we all need to put our efforts in to get by.
Pete Rock & Cl Smooth – Troy
The last track I am going to let you in on is the song T.R.O.Y. This song has created the staple in hip hop, it wasn’t a chart topping song in the early 90′s but really gave a message to those that we have lost. The song is an acronym to “They Reminisce Over You” dedicated to Troy Dixon. The song talks about how we all have good memories in life and we enjoy everything we can. Then sometimes we lose people that are very important to us but we must remember the good memories that we will always have of them to help us through the depression that we have. This song has become the focus of all rap songs that are about losing a fellow rapper or anybody for that matter. It teaches us that there are positives in every situation because you can’t change the past.
That is the list of ten songs with a meaning and I hope everyone enjoyed reading throughout the article. This in no way represents the order that the songs importance just that the songs were in a list. The opinions expressed throughout are not final and everyone is going to interpret things differently so don’t hold that against us. We hope that hip hop continues to make many meaningful tracks that express messages and open our eyes to the everyday occurrences that need to be addressed and dealt with before they are out of hand, or in some cases get under control again. Thank you for your time.