While we don’t expect artists such as the Ying Yang Twins or Nate Dogg to sing love ballads at weddings, their derogatory lyrics toward women tend to leave a bitter taste in our mouths. But not all rap songs objectify women — some of them are actually empowering. We’ve curated a list of some of those needles in the haystack.
“Crooked Smile” — J. Cole
“Love yourself, girl, or nobody will.
Oh, you a woman? I don’t know how you deal
With all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels.”
For some reason, women are expected to be bold, quirky, caring individuals who look effortlessly flawless at all times — regardless of the mayhem behind the scenes. J. Cole is one of the few rappers who acknowledges this impossible task, giving credit where credit is due. He reminds us that these unattainable expectations must be brushed aside so we can finally appreciate the person’s core. Thanks for loving us, even when it’s hard to love ourselves, J.Cole.
“Bonnie & Clyde” — Jay-Z
“Whatever she lacks, I’m right over her shoulder.
When I’m off track mami is keepin me focused.”
Now we’ll admit, we’re not sure how accurate these lyrics are anymore — but the point remains that it’s refreshing to hear a rapper who was considered hard at the time acknowledging that loving a woman doesn’t make you weak. In a genre where the number of women a man has had sex with is more impressive than getting a girl’s actual number, it’s hard to find a gentleman who talks about the value of love. Here’s to hoping Jay-Z remembers this song and rights any wrongs that may have happened.
“Keep Ya Head Up” — 2Pac
“And since we all came from a woman,
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman,
I wonder why we take from our women.”
Just to make his message clearer than crystal, 2Pac takes us back to our roots when we were born and raised by the very women that are often degraded in the rap world. He calls attention to all the sacrifices mothers make and reminds us that we’re building the next generation. If we don’t teach them to stop hating women, the cycle will continue — so it’s up to us to keep our heads up and focus on what’s right.
“Hey Mama” — Kanye West
“This little light of mine and I’m finna let it shine.
I’m finna take y’all back to them better times.
I’m finna talk about my mama if y’all don’t mind.”
First, let’s have a moment of silence for the old Kanye we (Kanye included) miss. West dedicated an entire song to his mother, thanking her for the sacrifices she made while raising him. He reminds us that Mother’s Day should be every day because our mothers have dealt with us every day. We hope these sentiments remain as his creativity blooms both in his raps and NSFW music videos.
“Keep Shining” — Shad
“I roll with clever broads with goals like Federov,
Seeking better jobs instead of running scams like Set it Off.”
Shad, a Canadian rapper, calls attention to the lack of women in rap, leading to the uneven playing field for the representation of women in the industry. By using successful female celebrities such as Tina Fey as examples, Shad reminds us that we should strive to build a community that empowers and encourages other women. He even brings it down to earth by mentioning his aunt who taught him how to sing two parts and his sister who taught him how to parallel park. We can all learn from each other — women are useful in places other than the bedroom, after all.
Contact Ilaf Esuf at [email protected].