“…Hip-Hop lyrics, but those of every great MC – are poetry if you look at them closely…I wanted to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.” – Shawn Corey Carter (AKA Jay-Z)
Have you ever wondered if hip-hop lyrics have a deeper meaning that just what is being said? How long did it take before you caught on to Lil Wayne’s “real G’s move in silence like Lasagna” line? Or J. Cole’s “said you love me, oh, but now you flipping like reciprocals” line? Or did you pay attention to the line before Eminem’s Lady GaGa line “she’s still a ‘mail’ lady? Or when T.I. said “my hustle grand…”?
I could go on and on about the references, the clever wordplay, and more. Hip-Hop, to me, is a very misunderstood genre of music. Today, people see Hip-Hop as nothing more than a way the exploit women, brag about money, pouring champagne on a stripper named “Krystal,” violence and more. I can’t say that not true, but, at the same time, there an unknown quality that not being shown to the masses.
“The radio’s the crime scene, the masses are the hostages.” - Joe Budden
If anyone tell me that there’s no quality or, “Hip-Hop does this and does that,” I’d give them some homework: go listen or watch J. Cole’s Lost Ones (video).
Unless you follow J. Cole or are a die hard hip-hop fan, you probably would have never thought a song like this would even exist. When was the last time you’ve heard a song like this? Without a Top 10 Hit or selling out, his album was numero uno, which is more than what I can say for a lot of other artists.
If you ever read Jay-Z’s Decoded or visit RapGenius, you’ll probably wonder “how in the world could [that artist] say all of this in this lyric” or, my personal favorite, “I would have never guessed that.” Like this line: “Flyer than a piece of paper bearin’ my name.” Or what did he really mean when he said, “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one”? Did you know the the second verse of “99 Problems” was a narrative or why what you think the reason he calls himself “Hova” is not what you think it is?
I use to date this chick who said she had a problem with Jay-Z. I assumed it was, because he refers to himself as “Hova,” which is explained in the book. People have this way for quickly associating what they see or hear into a (usually) predetermined, bogus conclusion (i.e. Common/Fox News). If there’s one thing I’ve learn from hearing Jay-Z, Eminem, Kanye, Wayne, J. Cole, Common, at el is that these artists are not stupid. They know what they are saying and, of course, others will intercept it in a whole other way. There will never be a day when Eminem will stop being associated with the “white-boy acting black” theory (and that’s a whole other story) or Common being a quote-unquote “thug” during the white house situation. Really? When I see Common, this is what I see:
“The Legendary Lost Black Man That All Black Women Have Been Dying To Find… [Sounds like a Tyler Perry Movie, doesn’t it?]”
The whole point of this is to show that Hip-Hop is not perfect. Some of the things said about it can be true (i.e. Nelly’s Tip Drill), but at the same time, let’s not forget songs like Rapper’s Delight or The Message. Or Lupe Fiasco’s Words I Never Said or All Black Everything. Or Kanye’s ability to make great Hip-Hop that the masses can enjoy without dumping it down (another Lupe song, by the way). Or the simple fact that Hip-Hop, much like the plays or poems you read in English class that have all those meanings to them that you didn’t understand until your teacher told you, is just that…poetry.
If you have not gotten Decoded yet, I encourage you to buy it. It great for anybody who loves music, especially Hip-Hop, and even a non-fan.