Rappers show their vulnerable side by talking about God


“We’re all self-conscious I’m just the first to admit it.” This line from “All Falls Down,” Kanye West’s single from his debut album “College Dropout” was the first time I’ve ever heard a rapper be vulnerable. I was used to rappers being bragadocious, something I just couldn’t relate too. Being sensitive and guarded was something I understood completely, and Kanye’s “All Falls Down,” an anthem about contradictions and human nature, is one of my favorite songs.

There was a lull in venerable raps until Kanye put out the album “808s and Heartbreak.” The songs talked about the fear of being unloved and destructive relationships. This album changed how rap artists talked about love, paving the way for artists like Drake.

Rappers showing their vunerable side continued with the discussion of religion. Ironically, one of the first mainstream gospel rap songs was also off “College Dropout,” with “Jesus Walks.” Yet another reason that “College Dropout” is Kanye’s best album and I have lost respect for friends who have told me “Graduation” is the best, but I digress. The influence of God started coming back with artists like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. J. Cole’s second album “Born Sinner” was about dealing with temptation while trying to be a man of God. Kendrick Lamar’s music has always had religious undertones. On the 2010 song “Growing Apart (To Get Closer),” Kendrick talks about his relationship with God and how he has been lazy, and then he says “I promise to stay faithful, focused and sanctified.” Several skits in his debut album “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City” included prayers. The lead single from his last album, “i” was about his Christian faith.

Chance The Raper has further pushed gospel rap to the forefront. His profanity free song, 2015’s “Sunday Candy,” was about church and his relationship with his grandma. Chance made public declaration of his Christianity when he performed the song on Saturday Night Live, becoming the first independent artist to perform on that show. He also performed the song “Somewhere In Paradise” that included the lyric “I might give Satan a swirly.”

In 2016 he continued to bring his religion to the forefront. He again performed on SNL, this time with Kanye West, Kirk Franklin and Kelly Price on the gospel rap song “Ultra Light Beam” that he cowrote for Kanye. He referenced his previous gospel rap song, “Sunday Candy,” by pronouncing “I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell.” The performance included a payer from Kirk Franklin and a gospel choir.

“Coloring Book,” the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2013 mixtape, “Acid Rap” which was heavily influenced by acid use, was influenced by the completely opposite subject matter, God. Songs included “Blessings” which featured the chorus “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone/I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone/When the praises go up, the blessings come down/When the praises go up, the blessings come down/
It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap/It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap.” The song “How Great” opens with “How great is our God/Sing with me, how great is our God/All will see how great is our God”

The inclusion of God into rap shows a more vulnerable side to rappers. Showing any type of vulnerability makes rap songs more relatable. However, this inclusion of God shows a progression in rap. Rap, a genre is is often cricticised for not being progressive is showing growth by increasing its subject matter.

Listen to some Gospel Rap songs below:


Drake, one of the best rappers alive, has a huge effect on the R&B genre


A few weeks ago, in the iTunes Spotlight section which features albums based on a theme, I saw that the current offering was titled “Spotlight on Post Drake R&B” and included such albums as  DVSN’s “Sept. 5” and Majid Jordan’s “Majid Jordan.” It was interesting to see a rapper being highlighted for his effect on R&B, but if you take a look at his career, he has been an R&B artist from the start.

Drake had been putting out mix tapes since 2006, with “Room For Improvement” and his 2007 followup “Comeback Season.”Both these mix tapes had elements of R&B  mixed with his raps.  For example, “Room For Improvement” included a sample of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.” “Comeback Season” sampled Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love.” “Comeback Season also yeiled the music video and single “Replacement Girl” featuring R&B singer Trey Songz.

Drake’s delved deeper into R&B with the first single for “So Far Gone,” the mix tape the propelled him into the mainstream. With “Best I Ever Had,” Drake went back and forth with his delivery style, singing and rapping the chorus of the song. Many songs on the mixtape featured him exclusively singing, such as the song “Sooner Than Later.” With this mix tape, which acted as an offical introduction of Drake to the hip-hop world, Drake showed that he was a multi-genre performer who was not going to choose one lane.

With Drake’s official studio albums, he was known to release both R&B and rap singles. His debut studio album “Thank Me Later” included the R&B single “Find Your Love,” on top of the rap singles like “Miss Me” and”Over.”  He was featured on R&B songs singing, like Beyonce’s “Mine.” and even wrote R&B songs like Jamie Foxx’s “Fall For Your Type.”

It was not just the delivery that was different with Drake. The subjects matter was different.  Drake music was able to touch on more sensitive topics like family, unrequited love and mistakes, topics that weren’t traditionally talked about in a vulnerable way in rap songs. Drake propelled what Kanye started with 2008’s “808s and Heartbreak,” showing that rap arists can be vulnerable and sing.

Other artists have been influenced by Drake. Bryson Tiller, an R&B singer, frequently raps on his songs that are rooted in soul music. PARTYNEXTDOOR, an artist signed to Drake’s label OVOSOUND, also mixes rap and R&B.

While Drake is not to first to mix the two genres, he was the first artist to build his career with this angle from the start. It will be interesting how he approaches this on his new album, Views From the 6, which was just released on April 29th.

Check on some of Drake’s best R&B songs below.


Skylar Grey releases video for new single “Moving Mountains”

Skylar Grey has made a name for herself in the hip-hop world for the better part of a decade. She has earned Grammy nominations for her collaboration with rap artists. She was a writer for “Love The Way You Lie,” the Rihanna and Eminem song that received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year and Best Rap Song. Her collaboration with Dr. Dre and Eminem for “I Need a Doctor” earned her nominations for Best Rap/Song Collaboration and Best Rap Song. She has also been a featured artist for many hip hop heavy weights songs, including T.I., Diddy and Nicki Minaj.

Following her previous solo projects, the albums “Like Blood Like Honey” and “Don’t Look Down,” she has released the single “Moving Mountains.” The video, filmed in Utah, where Grey now calls home, has the well known collaborator solo, attacking a snowy mountain climb on her own. Grey soulfully sings about going with the flow and living in the moment.

It will be interesting to see what direction Grey goes next. While this track definitely has a folkish vibe to it, I wonder how inspired she will be by her new home in Utah, or if she will continue the hip-hop collaboration that she is known for.

You can check out the video for “Moving Mountains” below and also listen to a playlist of her most popular collaboration.

Happy 28th Birthday Big Sean!


Big Sean celebrates his 28th birthday today. Big Sean has had a big year, going on tour to support his album, “Dark Sky Paradise” and also being featured on Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” album. Coming up he will be going on tour with Rhianna.

In celebration of his birthday, below is a playlist of some of his best songs.

[Playlist]-Best Songs of 2015

While many have already posted their favorite songs of 2015, I waited until 2015 had officially concluded. As we saw the last few days of 2015 included new music from the likes of Kanye, The Weeknd and Travis Scott, so I wanted any music that was released in 2015 to have a fair chance.

This playlist includes a lot of new artists like Alessia Cara, Fetty Wap and Bryson Tiller, but also people who have been in the game for a few years, like Drake, Big Sean and Jeremih.

Although I have been listening to The Weeknd for years, he had a huge years with several big songs. I choose The Hills to be on the playlist because it is a very unexpected song to be on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Listen to the playlist below and tell me some of your favorite songs from 2015.