Rap, like any other genre of music or medium of entertainment, can be problematic. Talented artists will make great beats, but the lyrics are often lacking. I can’t count how many times I’ve been jamming out to a song, and then was later horrified upon reviewing the lyrics. The rap genre has long been criticized for glorifying misogyny, drug and rape culture, but have no fear! Plenty of rappers are also making content with phenomenal lyrics and beats. So, without further or due, here are some artists making rap that you can sing along to guilt-free.
1. K’NAAN- K’NAAN is a Somali Canadian artist, whose sound features a blend of classic hip hop and international music like Somali music and Ethio-jazz (from Ethiopia). While his is a rapper, he also is a songwriter and poet. This talent reflects in his inspirational, contemplative, and political lyrics. While I could tell you more about his backstory (which is fascinating), his music speaks for itself.
2. Common: Like K’NAAN, Common’s poeticism shines through in his lyrics, as well as does progressivism. For example, he’s made a pledge not include homophobic lyrics in his music. This may not seem like a big deal for most music genres, but it is a big step in trying to address some of the complex and deep-seeded issues between the hip hop community and gay rights activists. Meanwhile, he writes beautiful music. Check out the lyrics to intense tunes like “Testify” to see for yourself.
3. Kendrick Lamar: people who have heard only Kendrick’s radio hits will laugh when I argue that he’s actually super woke. But alas, it’s true. His album To Pimp a Butterfly offers sharp, thought provoking racial commentary. At the same time, it also functions as a marvelous celebration of self.
4. Watsky: Slam poet George Watsky’s music incorporates elements of poetic performance as well as poetic writing. At times, it may seem uncomfortably staccato for veteran rap listeners. However, those who can get past his unconventional delivery will appreciate both the beats and the complicated, introspective lyrics of his songs. He writes about issues like mortality, existentialism and self-understanding. But don’t worry- he also some purely fun tracks as well.
5. Chance the Rapper: You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Chance’s career has been built of refusing to sell albums in favor of providing music for free via streaming mediums. In fact, his mixtape Coloring Book, was the first ever streaming-only album to ever win a Grammy Award. His music is spiritual, joyful and features witty double entendre and pop culture references.