My first love was Hip Hop.
Now, I know Hip Hop gets a bad rap (pun fully intended) but I’m not of the belief that all Hip Hop music is bad. If you can get past some of the language and ignore the songs that are about booty poppin and lip gloss; there really is some quality to be found in the lyrics and skills of these artists.
If you follow Hip Hop closely you can agree that there isn’t really a balance between the good and the bad. For every Jay-Z, you come across three new artists with a 2 year career and two one hit wonders talking absolutely nothing. What I love about hip hop is the brilliance of artists like Eminem, Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco and Macklemore. Their ability to string together words in a way that has a deeper meaning than you first notice is impeccable. In addition to those raw MC skills, I also love the hustle & business acumen of artists like 50 cent, Jay-Z, Puff Daddy and Dr.Dre.
Now, I know what you are thinking, Hip Hop isn’t for kids. It’s degrading to women and glorifies crime, drugs and encourages violence. And although you are correct as it relates to some of the music, you shouldn’t paint the entire genre with the same brush. Just because some songs don’t tickle your fancy, doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few things from a few of the greats within this genre.
Here are six reasons why you and your kids should listen to Hip Hop:
1. Because it’s important to understand & embrace the struggle.
Whether it’s stories about growing up in the projects or battling addiction; Hip Hop is filled with stories of struggle and overcoming professional & personal obstacles. Ben Horowitz talks about the Struggle for entrepreneurs and uses the lyrics of Lupe Fiasco to further demonstrate the idea behind his thoughts. The Lu Ben shares the fact that in entrepreneurship, You start out chasing your dreams and a vision but that vision eventually turn into nightmares and you find yourself in The Struggle.
In Hip-Hop, the struggle is seen as an obstacle that is common. It’s an obstacle that is embraced and one that is put in front of someone not because they aren’t talented but instead because nothing great comes easy. In the lyrics above, you find a quote from the song “Talking to Myself” by Eminem. This song was Eminem sharing the story about his struggle with drug addiction and how he needed to put drugs behind him to become the rapper that he wanted and needed to be. The idea that one of the most recognized rappers in history can come out with a song about his struggle and weakness in such a transparent way is powerful. It sends a message that even those at the top have inner demons and problems and that it’s important to face them.
2. Because it’s important to value ongoing quality work.
You can learn a handful of business lessons from Jay-Z but one of the most important lessons is the value of quality work. Inspired by an interview with Notorious B.I.G a slain rapper, on his track “My first song” Jay-Z references the importance of treating every song and album as if it’s his first chance to impress the fans. This mentality is important in developing a sense of worth as it relates to giving 100% all the time. It’s a mentality that embraces the idea of always pushing forward and never riding on our past successes to take us into the future.
3. Because it’s important to be confident and comfortable with who you are and embracing those who are different.
Hip Hop is about being comfortable in your own skin and being confident in yourself while embracing peoples differences. The early years of Hip Hop were all about being proud of where you came from (the hood) and being proud of your culture. There were a handful of songs that celebrated the struggles of blacks and were meant to give youth a sense of pride and confidence. Whether it’s in a song like “I Know I Can” where Nas proclaims that his “An architect, doctor, maybe an actress But nothing comes easy, it takes much practice” his lyrics speak to young people with the hope of allowing them to recognize that they’re able to achieve their dreams. Furthermore, you look at more recent lyrics from folks like Macklemore who use songs like “Same Love” where he demonstrates support for equal rights for everybody no matter the color of skin or sexual preference.
Over t the last few years, things have been great in terms of progress for Hip Hop. That said, I’m not going to pretend that Hip Hop has always an accepting of people who are different. It’s common knowledge that there have been songs filled with homophobic slurs and degrading rhymes. That said, there’s no doubt the music has come a long way and that the next wave of artists like Macklemore, Frank Ocean & Childish Gambino are more supportive of equal rights for all than ever before. I’m confident that this new wave of music is going to continue making strides in moving society forward.
4. Because they shouldn’t be afraid to chase their dreams.
Everyone has dreams. Whether they dream of a simple life or a life filled with fame and success. The reality is, a lot of people are afraid to chase their dreams even though it can be life’s greatest adventure. Hip Hop also reiterates the idea that chasing a dream isn’t going to be easy. It is stated over and over again how hard these artists work to get where they are and through their music you hear that idea over and over again. It only takes one listen to Jay-Z’s “Black Album” to understand the importance of working harder and smarter to get ahead.
When you look at some of the most successful Hip Hop artists over the last three decades it’s clear that the majority of them are living or lived what they saw as the life of their dreams. Whether it was Biggie stating: “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis When I was dead broke, man I couldn’t picture this” or Jay-Z proclaiming: “I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not trying”. The idea of taking action towards accomplishing something isn’t rocket science or anything groundbreaking. That said, this is a simple idea that many people ignore and don’t embrace over the course of their lives. Instead, they go through their lives with these great ideas of what they should and could be yet die with the lyrics unheard and ideas forever in their head.
5. Because it’s important for them to follow their passions.
It seems like there are more people in the world doing jobs they don’t enjoy than the number of people who love what they do every day. For me, I look at many of my friends, former colleagues, partners and peers and it’s as if they live simply for the weekends. They don’t love the things they do from day-to-day. They don’t enjoy their job and they don’t like being around the people they work with. They just go with the flow…
In the Hip Hop classic, Sky’s the Limit , Notorious BIG said “Only make moves when your heart’s in it and live the phrase sky’s the limit.” This simple concept of doing this you truly care about is difficult advice to follow on a daily basis. In fact, there is no doubt that you’re going to have to do things you don’t actually want to do to get where you want to be. That said, keeping your eye on what your heart is ultimately after will help you push through it. It will help you get through the hard times and achieve your goals.
6. Because they should have the ability to identify what is right and what’s wrong. Even when it’s in the lyrics of their favourite artist.
Some Hip Hop is brutal. Some of it’s beautiful. In life, it’s important to be able to identify and recognize the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. Whether it’s in the lyrics of a song or in the actions of an artist. It’s important to establish your own set of morals and have the ability to make a clear distinction around what is and what isn’t right.
Hopefully this blog post has showed you that Hip Hop isn’t a horrible genre filled with violence, crime and sexism. I myself love it and I don’t think I’ll ever stop listening to the lyrics of the great lyricists when I’m looking for a little late night inspiration or old and gray. You just need to have realistic expectations when you plug in the headphones and recognize that it’s not all sugar plums and lollipops. But if you make the right playlist and truly recognize the good artists from the rest, you’re sure to enjoy the music.
Do you have any favourite hip hop songs that you like to listen to while wired in? Still think Hip Hop is wrong?