Rap and Hip-Hop have enhanced the lives of millions across the globe. They have certainly enhanced mine. While there several solid reasons to complain about rap, I’m focusing today on how rap frees all of us in our everyday lives. How? As the pre-rap poetry goes, “Let me count the ways;”
1. It Was Made To Make Us Move
Dating back to the history and origins of rap and hip-hop, the most basic forms were used for rhythmic dance rituals, celebrations, and all forms of expression. What sets it apart is its usual fast, consistent tempos or soulful storytelling. Fast-forward to today, and the roots are still there. I’m a fan of all rap and hip-hop types. Whether underground poetry or auto-tuned Top 50 Hits, old school throwbacks or present-day playlists, these genres force me to move! This changes my bad day, bad thoughts, or bad ideas into blissful motion. For me, it doesn’t matter if the lyrics are deep or not. I am moving, and my mind is nowhere else but here. I don’t even worry how I am viewed in these moments. This is everyday personal freedom for millions.
2. It Helps Us Understand Each other More Deeply
More often than not, rap makes me laugh. Lyrics comes out cleverer than my brain can catch up to in real time. They play on words, rhymes, and patterns. Listening is a brain game. Sometimes the mental images are so hilarious (or so foul) that I have to pause the music to digest. Either way, I always know exactly what they mean. The use of literary devices allows for unmatched verbal precision. It tells a story or even a joke like nothing else can. It gives us understanding—a free exchange of stories and ideas. We all know this leads to more freedom.
3. It Shapes Language
I don’t study language, but I wouldn’t be surprised if rap meeting the internet has made for the fastest evolving creation and spreading of new language in history. Slang is adopted overnight from the minds of artists to the everyday use of young people. A rapper forms a string of letters or words that tickles us, and before you can meme it, it’s history. We now control our language in a more direct way than ever. People sometimes joke about the legitimacy of these words and phrases, but there’s no fighting spontaneous order. The words already have meaning before you can use yours to fight it. The fact that the haters don’t relate to the meaning doesn’t make it less legitimate.
4. It Spreads the Word on Free Market Solutions
This is probably my favorite thing about rap and hip-hop. Young and minority communities have found a special place in their hearts for freer markets because of lyrics. Your everyday young person isn’t concerned with economic models and policy research. They like what they like and they don’t like what they like taken from them. Rappers were early adopters of Uber and Bitcoin. These solutions to state-led problems have stirred up controversy around the world. It doesn’t faze lovers of rap for one minute. It’s already been deemed “cool” by the rap and hip-hop community, and it’s already proven to work. Just take a look at 14 famous lyrics about Uber from the year 2014. Furthermore, access to Uber driving has given immigrant and minority communities who cherish rap music greater avenues to income without excessive occupational licensing—a big barrier to work in low-income areas. Bitcoin also wasn’t on the map for most listeners until its lyrical mentions. Check out how this hip-hop contest offered Bitcoin to winners. These means of reaching minds are unfathomably more effective than policy argument. Self-interest and culture are at work.
5. It Brings Change
Culture follows rap and hip-hop culture in the world of memes, references, and art. As long as rap has been on the radio, it has been the fastest and most accurate way to find out what is on teenage and young adult minds. Issues of criminal justice reform, federal government expansion, and welfare state issues have all come to light through rap. Emotions and thoughts are recorded and spread through communities as issues evolve year by year. These songs have even motivated individuals to take action and innovate. Its popularity has even made it impossible to ignore black creators. Testimonies through art are far more powerful than ones on congressional podiums.
6. It’s Productive Entrepreneurship
The majority of rappers and hip-hop artists didn’t grow up in wealth. In fact, much of their music reflects the poor conditions they did grow up experiencing. There’s also a reason artists work with crews comprised of many childhood friends. What gets one ahead in the projects and streets is destructive entrepreneurship. Organized crime, as terrible as it may be, is highly entrepreneurial. It’s not productive, as Baumol would say, but it’s still creatively capturing a market. Art development is an innovative, legal means of inventing, and has the potential to make us all richer. Most even go on to start brands and non-profits that each create hundreds of jobs—often for suffering communities. Entrepreneurship breaks all the chains.
There are certainly flip-sides to these coins that include degrading women, body image issues, glorification of drugs and crime, materialism, and causality of sex. I won’t dispute that. Maybe that should change. In a way, these plights being included gives insight into the authentic state of culture. It’s not pretty. It’s messy, but it’s true. Understand rap, understand the world around you.
Pro Tip: Check out some female rappers to hear some empowerment-in-action. Boss ladies are doing and not checking with the press first.