Daily post have presented a nice challenging task for writing 101. Select 3 important songs to you, they say. Little did they know about the panic and intense pondering they had plunged me into. For me, selecting only 3 important songs to talk about, is like gathering my close friends and family into one room and telling them that only 3 of them are important, and only 3 of them will be joining me on a special prize holiday. It’s mean and it’s cruel, but it definitely got me thinking, like one of those house fire scenarios, those “If your house was burning, what 3 things would you grab?” Type questions.
I remember the songs I chose for my last contribution to this challenge, last time round. At that point in time, those three songs were the three songs that I felt deserved a mention. I have decided on a fresh three today. A trio that are relevant to my current lever thinking. So I appologise for the lack of diversity in genre, because it’s hip hop time, we’ll be touring some fly rhymers, with some dope commentary on some straight truth! Here are my current 3 important works of hip hop.
Can I Holla At Ya – J.Cole
J.cole wins his audience with a level of honesty, he is a clever lyricist who doesn’t conform to many of the popular culture structures of rap. “Can I Holla At Ya”, with a Lauren Hill sample, mirrors an all too familiar sensation. Looking back and finally saying those words we never said. J Cole steals an opportunity in each verse to address 3 different subjects with honesty and a humbling openness. The emotional content is rich and without a doubt, very raw. He talks to an old sweet heart, exploring the possibilities of what could have been and the connection that may still underly, he wants to revisit the one that got away and he offers is a front row seat to the dialogue. He then portraits an honest monologue to a father figure, one that was filled with it’s fair share of tempestuous emotion. From a boy he remembers that relationship and carries a burden inside him, he shows us the development of the relationship and the underlying resentment, “by now you’re probably and old man, but I won’t be satisfied until we throw hands…” The reality of that relationship does scare call, maybe a part of that father figure lives on within him. He then addresses a childhood friend. From J. Coles start to his success he has understandably changed and the faces around him have changed in certain ways. There are people we lose touch of ,after a long time it’s hard to identify where we fit. Do we pick up where we left off? The beautiful thing about writers, poets, musicians, is the ability to connect with an audience on relatable strands of thought. J Cole knows how to do this well. He is calling his subjects aside in memory for an honest heart to heart. When was the last time you wished you could pull someone aside for an honest “Can I Holla At Ya?”
Family Business – Kanye West
Kanye West has played with my loyalty dramatically over the years. From late registration, college drop out days through to Yeezus, I have both celebrated and detested his work. But if he played it safe he would not be the Kanye I respect as an artist. Family business does what it says on the tin. We all have our moments of weakness, we have our strengths and down falls. Blood is thinker than water, sometimes it’s this density that might feel like a lead weight holding us back. Family is not a perfect word by any stretch of the imaginatiom. We are victims of our own humanity, so the ambiguity of character can cause harmony or friction at times. It’s undeniable that family is forever, just because I detest my cousin, it doesn’t make him less of a cousin, he simply becomes a cousins I hate. Kanye identifies different family elements, giving a guided tour of the different characters that piece together to make that family. “You know that one auntie, you don’t mean to be rude, but every holiday nobody eating her food…” Home truths. He plays with humour well. We will run shoulders, but as we done together, sit together at the same table we are bound to bump shoulders. We all have our demons. “We ain’t letting anybody in our family business” we may not be perfect, but we are one.
Bitch, Bad – Lupe Fiasco
We are confusing ourselves with popular culture. The conflict between the cool and our core is bordering on disunity. I have chanted along to “I like bad bitches that’s my fucking problem” by ASAP rocky, Knowing full well, I would feel a certain way of the special woman in my life would associate herself with the term “bad bitch”. We are casual with this conflict at times, we can nonchalantly draw the line between entertainment and personal values, those core principles. We feel as though we are relatively mature and can make that distinguishment. Sadly we are confusing a generation that are coming in after us. Lupe Fiasco addresses this confusion in Bitch, Bad. He talks about the possible confusion of a young boy watching his mother sing along to her favourite record, referring to herself as a “bad bitch”. He recognises her a source of support and strength, and in his head builds a picture of a bad bitch as a strong dependable woman to his mothers likeness. Lupe moves on to contrast this image by addressing the potential outcome of some young girls listening to the music, watching the videos online. The internet is there for everyone, even moderately tech savvy youngsters can discover the world, in good and bad ways through it, ” It doesn’t matter if they have patental clearance, they understand the Internet better than there parents”. The young girls attach themselves to a very different definition of a bad bitch, the video vixen, forever flaunting her flesh, the apple of the protagonists eye. Lupe furthers this confusion by introducing the boy to one of those little girls. Both have an image of “Bad, Bitch” with both conflicting with each other’s definition of the idea. He never knew a bad bitch to dress this way, in his mind a “bad bitch” was firm source of support, the the young girl “Bitch” was still an offensive term. There are a host of contradictions that we look over because they are a done thing, having slowly become some kind of a social norm, breeding confusion and conflict in the way we, and the generations coming into there own, perceive themselves and the world around. We say “it’s just music”, We are lucky when we cab make that distinction.However music has been a big influence in social culture for a long time, Lupe does a good job of discussing the consequences of these contradictions. Words have power, and popular culture does have the potential to confuse us and the budding generation, leading them astray. Message from me and Lupe, think about what you’re actually saying.