Hip-Hop Songs from 1980-2021 that Deserve More Respect
Updated: Jan 13
For this project, I wrote about the top songs from 1980-the 1990s (Sawyer did 2010-2021). For my inhale, I annotated every song and wrote up a summary about them. And for my goals, I wanted to make my opinion longer than most of my opinions on the songs to make it more of a review-like format.
Songs from 2010-2021
The Empire State Of Mind. By, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z
In the first lines of the song, he says being next to Deniro and the new Sinatra. He is referring to himself being as famous as Robert De Niro and the same music influence as Frank Sinatra. These are not the only artists he mentions; he also mentions Bob marly. When he says the line concrete jungle where dreams are made of. This is a song by Bob Marley. Jay Z also mentions The Notorious B.I.G in the line home of that boy biggie. Jay Z also pays tribute to the world trade center and the death of Bob Marley. The song is about New York from an artist from there and the world trade center.
Day N Nite. by Kid Cudi
The song is about his addictions to maruajiwana and his uncle's death.
The reason this affected him so much is his uncle was the one who supported him the most and also was a musician. In many lines, it shows how smoking was a way to get his mind off things and to cope.
One Dance. By Drake
The song is about Drake's Love life. The first words in one dance “Grips on your way front way back way” is from a song by the artist Kyla who was also on this song, it's also talking about the one dance with someone. In the song, Drake talks about not having enough time for a relationship and him regretting that. You can figure that out by him saying OT in the song it has two meanings, one is which is Yoruba which is a word that means liquid the reason they say this word is because the artist in this song also is Wizkid who speaks this language.
Lose Yourself By Eminem
The song is about his childhood and past life of Eminem doing rap battles in Detroit. The first couple lines of the song describe how he was feeling on stage or before performing and this grasps the tone of the song. This song came out for 8 mile a movie about Eminem. It shows the ups and downs just like what the song had..The song is about you only have one shot so take it.
Stronger. By Kanye West
The song is about mistakes making you stronger and going past all the distractions in life.
In the song, it says whatever you go through in life and the mistakes and troubles make you stronger. This was also after Kanye West's mom's death.
In Da Club- 50 Cent
This song is about being in the club and was meant to be a party song.
It's about his success and how much he was selling at the time and compares himself to Eminem who at the time was selling a lot. The song was co-written by Dr. Dre. In 2008 VH1 ranked this song as the 18th track on their list of the top 100.
Songs from 1980-the 1990s,
“Rapper’s Delight”, By The Sugarhill Gang Year Made: 1980The Sugar Hill Gang - Rapper's Delight ( HQ, Full Version )
“Rapper’s Delight” was known as one of the first hip-hop songs of all time. The Sugarhill Gang was a very popular rap group in the 80s and had good beats in their music. They hit the billboards twice in 1981 and in 1983. The formula for this achievement was to get boastful lyrics over a sampled beat to make it a nice rap beat. “Rapper’s Delight” wasn't the greatest hip-hop song ever recorded but it was the first and will go in the books as a very good hip hop group.
“It's Like That”, By RUN-D.M.C Year Made: 1984
The group RUN-D.M.C made this song to represent the meaning of our society and how black people live their lives. “Bills fly higher every day. We receive much lower pay. I'd rather stay young, go out and play
It's like that, and that's the way it is”. They say “We a black community getting lower pay and that's how life is”. The song took 10 years to become #1 on the charts and was the first rap band to do so. It was one of the first songs to have a hip-hop/rap beat that everyone loved.
“Can't Touch This” By MC Hammer Year Made: 1980
The phrase “U Can't Touch This” became one of the biggest phrases of the rap/hip hop industry. The phrase means “You'll never be as good as me” or “I'm too good for you”. Rick James was one of the songwriters and he did not want people to sample any of his music saying “It was too good”.
“Dear Mama”, by 2PAC (Tupac Shakur). Year Made: 1995
In the first few lines of his song, he talks about how he appreciates his mama being her and being there for him. He also talks about his early childhood and how difficult it was. “Suspended from school and scared to go home, I was a fool’’ he goes on “Seventeen years old, kicked out on the streets’’. He talks more about not being able to do stuff that we do here at school and being a bad kid. He has to reach his mother but can't because he was in jail.
“Drop It Like It’s Hot”, by Snoop Dogg. Year Made: 1999
“Drop It Like It’s Hot” is one of the popular phrases of the rap/hip hop industry and the song itself is up there as well. The phrase means a dance move where a person (usually a woman) bends over or bends her knees and “drops” towards the floor, emphasizing her backside. The Snoop Dogg style of this song was meant to be like a sexual/gang song. Added like the Los Angeles gang (Crips) and how the rap industry changed from being more sexual on the west side. When on the east side it was more of a gang and violent rap/hip-hop industry.
“Miami”, by Will Smith Year Made: 1997
The song “Miami” refers to the city of Miami Florida, and how it's Will Smith's most favorite city and
how he loves everything about Miami. The song mostly focuses on the hot weather and the beauty of the land. Like many hip-hop songs, women's beauty is also mentioned in this song. South Beach is a well-known Miami neighborhood, that is an example used to describe Miami's beauty, nightclubs, and other attractions. This “Miami” song is actually sampled from the song “And The Beat Goes On” By The Whispers from 1980.
Sawyer: You can see how the older rap is more lyrical and has meaning but for example In Da Club by 50 cents you can see that it loses the meaning. The older songs also have hidden meanings that if you listen and loom into the lyrics you can see them, for example, to or oti in One Dance by Drake has two meanings and one in a different language. We also found out that in a lot of songs artists mention other artists. I feel like rappers now are not as lyrical as rappers back then. Artists like Kid Cudi and Kanye West experiment with different beats that no one uses to make them stand out and different. Now a lot of mainstream rap has more different and creative beats. And I liked how Kaynes music made me feel like a different person.
Tino: I feel from an 80-90s perspective that rap has changed significantly from talking about drugs, gangs, and sexual stuff. But in today's music, I feel like we talk about life and how society is. Like Sawyer said for “Rappers Delight” I didn't have the word “Rappers Delight” as much as “Drop It Like It's Hot” where they said it quite often. I feel like rap has changed from different beats as well. Back in the 80s, It gave me a Disco/Pop beat whereas now we have a quick good beat. I feel like in my opinion the pop sound was better than we have now because now we have a fast song that really takes a long time to remember but now I remember most of the songs I did in the 80s/90s because it has a more simple beat. Nowadays there are much more swears and inappropriate behavior when it comes to rap but back then it was pretty much the same. The difference was the vocabulary and slang back then. Some of the titles were confusing in the 90s song.