The Purpose of Rap


Photo courtesy of XXL Magazine.

Janae Polk, Editor-In-Chief

“Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn’t require either race to lose anything; everyone gained.”- Jay-Z

This summer, many rap albums have been released since their arrival, they’ve been raving. Jay-Z’s 4:44, Tyler The Creator’s Flower Boy, Joey Bada**’s All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, and much more left a great mark with their significant meanings. In this time it would seem that rap has lost its political and rebellious undertone, but it still remains.

Music is seen to most as a way to channel certain emotions whether they be romantic, angry, or sad, it’s never been just simple music. The albums of today are constructed meticulously to be the best forms of art. Hip-Hop has evolved so greatly that the rappers are given the chance to take their careers to the all the way to the White House. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly wasn’t only iconic because of its song, the infamous album cover displays a group of men posing in front of the White House which complemented its general purpose.

Most artists want to appeal to the masses, they have to know what the people want to hear in order for the rhythmical lyrics to resonate within. Writing raps is a process. Like writing a poem, the one with the creative mind and a compelling narrative will most likely have the best impact.The Hip-Hop/Rap genre has been renowned and honored for charging political statements throughout most of its songs.

The different styles, verses, and lyrics keep the Hip-Hop/Rap genre varied and interesting.

4:44, released June 30, 2017, goes far beyond what people would normally expect. The album itself illuminates the issues of race, culture, fidelity, and love. The serendipitous meaning behind the recurring number four was hard for many of Jay-z’s fans to grasp.

In an interview with Complex, Jay-Z states, “ 4:44′ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song. So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”

Jay-Z taps into his immature acts and lack of love claiming in the song, “I harassed you out in Paris Please come back to Rome, you make it home We talked for hours when you were on tour Please pick up the phone, pick up the phone! I said: “Don’t embarrass me,” instead of “Be mine.”

Jay-Z reveals a whole new side to him that most rappers wouldn’t even comprehend to do, he centers in on his failure as a loving partner, and further exploits the hurt he caused. Many would oppose and believe that rappers are supposed to be void and narcissistic, leaving no room to spit about their setbacks and personal growth.

This alludes to the concept rappers altering the habitual flow of making songs only about money, degrading women, and consuming drugs.

Tyler the Creator, owner of Flower Boy, came out full force with a multitude of songs that embodied his personality. Hits like See You Again featuring Kali Uchis, explores his attraction for a certain someone, he exerts his affection by grabbing the listeners with the first line of the verse, “ You live in my dream state.” He gives us a final reel when he hits the chorus, “20/20, 20/20 vision Cupid hit me, Cupid hit me with precision, eye wonder if you look both ways When you cross my mind.”

It was quite confusing trying to figure who the love song was for, but his fans got the idea when it was subtly revealed through his songs that he was bisexual, especially through his Garden Shed track. With the acceptance of the LGBT+, all of his fans were accepting and they still admire him for the truth he spills.

Although themes of love and affection aren’t seen as normal in rap songs, it seemed to fit Tyler’s piece.

Destiny Feyijimi, a senior at Da Vinci Communications and a big fan of the hip-hop/rap genre said, “ J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and others are the only hip-hop artists that pose a political stance in their songs.”

“Back then it was cool to have political statements, take N.W.A and F*** Da Police for example and Tupac Shakur Changes, it displays his stance on the war on drugs and Black people in poverty.”

Feyijimi concludes, “ Hip Hop has gone slightly to trash, but because people like Donald Trump are in power, artists are more prone to rap about what the public believes. His presidency incited rappers to write songs racial inequality. Artists are rapping more about uniting against his bigoted views.”

In the recent BET Hip Hop Awards, rapper Eminem dropped a massive attack of Trump’s presidency, calling out every piece of contradiction and bigotry that he’s embodied.

The evolution of rap has seemed to suffer in regards to significant purpose, but the recent albums that have come out reversed the cynical narrative of empty rap songs. Rappers are more open as the rappers of the past who channeled their emotions through political rhetoric and social justice.