1. “Got caught up in a brawl, I was with a redbone/ Then I plead the fifth, put on my headphones/ Lookin’ at my b*tch I know I’m dead wrong” ’”Back On” feat. Lil Baby
This lyric honestly makes me laugh, as our culture of ‘loyalty’ is very different from person to person. In April 2018, there were rumors that Lil Baby was cheating on his girlfriend, but never told her.
2. “If you wanna put on my chain you might as well come out and/stand in the cold with me.” “We Never Argue” by Dave East
Dave East’s chain represents a hustle, represents hard nights of selling drugs in the cold, and he means to stand in the cold because in order to run with him you have to go through what he did. This is representative of the streets of Harlem where he grew up.
3. “Everyone who doubted me is askin’ for forgiveness/If you ain’t a part of it, at least you got to witness.” “Forever” feat. Drake
On a Nike marketing campaign, there is a photo of LeBron captioned “WE ARE ALL WITNESSES.” Drake is thus comparing himself to one of the best basketball players in NBA history, setting a level for his place in the rap game. He does give me a sense of drive in the first part of the line, telling everyone to work hard, people who doubt you will envy you in the end.
4. “I wanna know what you like/I wanna know if you smoke, am I strokin’ tonight/Picture us both gettin’ low on a flight/Love is a gamble, I’m rollin’ the dice.” “Perfect” by Dave East
East goes into getting the ‘perfect’ girl in this collabed song with Chris Brown, infamous for his R&B bars on slower hip hop tracks. I personally love that Dave says he’s rollin’ the dice; does anyone really know where love is going?
5. “I was already sentenced, before I came up out the womb/Streets done already sentenced me, before no cracker could/And I wonder why, why I’m just so f*cked up out the hood.” ’’Day for Day” by Kodak Black
In my opinion, this is a powerful lyric as Kodak is describing that where he grew up the streets of Florida were so bad that no matter what he would get in trouble with the law. “Before no cracker could” is refererring to the white power above African Americans in poverish communities, such as the public housing project he grew up in in.
6. “I blame God for my convictions/Never give a judge that ammunition/Never had no co defendants/God gon’ be my only witness.” “Weather the Storm” feat. Lil Baby
Lil Baby believes that his path is already written out by God, so he doesn’t believe that a judge has power over him because only God does– God’s already written his destiny.
7. “Tryna fix the system and the way that they designed it/I think they want me silenced/Oh say you can see/I don’t feel like I’m free/Locked down in my cell, shackled from ankle to feet/Judge bangin’ that gavel turned me to slave from a king.” “What’s free?” by Meek Mill
Meek Mill is trying to fix the system and believes that it is hurting him in his own federal court cases, resulting in him feeling trapped. The judge that he had throughout all of his trials kept turning him into a “slave” to the jail, meanwhile he was a king in the music world.
8. “Get to know somebody and you really learn a lot about ‘em/Won’t be long ‘fore you start to doubt ‘em/ Tell yourself you better off without ‘em/Then in time you will find you can’t walk without ‘em/Can’t talk without em’ can’t breathe without em/Came here together you can’t leave without em’/So you walk back in, make a scene about em.” “G.O.M.D.” by J. Cole
J. Cole uses this verse to show the ups and downs that happen in relationships. He describes the exciting beginning to the defying end, but we don’t exactly ever think of it so simply. We go through the emotions, but think of the cycle—if you go and create a scene out of anger to get them back, do you actually think it will work?
9. “That’s why we seize the moment, try to freeze it and own it/Squeeze it and hold it ‘cause we consider these minutes golden.” “Sing for the Moment” by Eminem
The way Eminem describes internalizing every moment has always been interesting to me. He knows he is on top, but he needs to seize the moment as these experiences can end in an instant. This is a basic outline of our lives—we never know when our lives can change.
10. “Lunches, brunches, interviews by the pool, considered a fool cause I dropped outta high school, stereotypes of a black male misunderstood, and it’s still all good.” “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie is referencing the high life through “lunches, brunches, interviews by the pool,” but he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 in order to make money, as he couldn’t get by. He then grazes the ideas of racial stereotypes in society, which unfortunately perpetuates year after year. He was misunderstood, and became one of the best rappers ever known as he always kept it good.