Why Should You Listen to Hip-Hop in 2017?

For the same reason as every year: ’cause it makes you feel hype and ambitious and like things are possible and that nothing can touch you and the squad been putting in hours and caring about what we do and how we gonna get what we been on. Everyone else can take a seat, take a number, hit voicemail, and count sheep. That’s a feeling I have sometimes and I like starting the year with it.

These are songs that bring me that feeling.

“The Relevant” by Kendrick Lamar

What you worry for? I ain’t tryna jack your swag. I’m trying to better my craft and stay relevant. If I think and act like you do, the world would die from not seeing something new. And if I don’t speak on how I feel the world would lose out on what’s really real.

How much ambition is rap music responsible for? How much empowerment has it given individuals world-wide since the late ’70s? Kendricks’s bars are some of the realest bars ever written by an American writer, including Mark Twain, Hemingway, and anyone else who wants to put on boxing gloves. Kendrick’s philosophy, the idea that your voice matters no matter what, is the realest philosophy to be philosophized. That is why I am never gonna stop speaking. We got stuff to make happen and push forward. Our generation will change how the world spins and that progress will come from us speaking.

Hip-hop shows me more sides of myself. I get reminded to be vulnerable and open to my own outrageousness; my own, untested sensibilities. I will only earn an intuition if I put myself in situations that allow me to demonstrate it, or force me to. Keep it pushing. That is the mantra. “Keep it pushing” is true advice at all times. I want to go into territory that I did not intend to. I only want to do things I never fantasized about. What I have intended is too small and realistic. A life is not a place for realistic exertions. Life wants your most unrestrained effort. This type of effort I can expect to find if I pursue this life for fun, for my own laughter, for my own purposes. I am here to enjoy life and by doing so, push it past typical.

“Forever” by Alex Wiley and Mick Jenkins

Man I been tryna keep it potent. The team divided but we forever be riding for the people pay attention to the quotient. It’s such a mixture of talent and knowledge and people and purpose and polish all in a potion. My people blind and they thirsty, they hungry, they hurting, they searching for water I brought an ocean. But if you think this looks hopeless yo vision is out of focus.

Mick Jenkins is an empowering dude. He’s dark, but he’s optimistic. He does not stop talking about self-wisdom and his journey to be knowledgeable about his own feelings and views. That’s the way the world is sometimes: dark and muddy and windy, but individuals can always empower themselves through self-discovery and self-love and self-invention. That is where I begin my year. At the center of self and pushing outward towards goals and skills and destinations. This music makes you feel like you can make lightning from your hands. Like you got Earth avatar. Perfect pitch. Speed reading. Instant full kai.

“Shine,” by Royce Da 5’9

They say that you get what you ask for, well, I asked to be left alone with my pen, pad and passport.

Me and my craft is my concerns. The craft is the link between me and my future, nothing affects me more than the quality of my work and the work I can perform when someone green lights me. What I get done will tell me how life will go.

“Illest Alive” by Kanye West and Jay Z

I need a slow motion video right now
Cause I’m movin’ in slow motion, slow motions
Imagine how that gonna look at the front row of the Grammys?

I don’t know. How is the squad gonna look at the Grammys? We do not know anything about dressing nice but the tailor we throw a money brick at will. We decided we’re sending Rocco to Harvard, Dojo is getting studio time, and we giving Martin 10 grand to angel invest on Kickstarter while Jarret and Joel buy out Elon Musk. When one member of the squad eats, we all get fat. And we all looking forward to it!

“That’s Love” by Chance The Rapper

What’s better than followers is actually falling in love. What’s better than frolicking, follies, fallin in mud? Rolling in green pastures, wandering following love. What’s better than eating is feeding your fam. What’s better than meetings is missing meetings to meet with your fam.

Love is happening today. Today love is being made and growing and blooming and people are connecting with one another like hands held and fingers interlocked and centers intertwined. Two-thousand-seventeen is the year of love. It is the year you find the thing, familiar or unfamiliar, that has called you. You are drawn to your calling and connected with the event or circumstance that can put you eye-to-eye with all that matters and all that is good and healing. You might have to work for it or beauty might appear out the sky—beauty is not a creature of habit or predictable behaviors; she does what she wants and appears where she wants. Gotta be awake enough to see her and accept free beauty when it’s offered.

“Sorry” by TI with Andre 3000 and Stacy Barthe

Listen, dawg, the fact of the matter is
I’m on a narrow path and we all can’t travel
What should I be sorry for?
Who should I be sorry to?
The fact is you can’t please everybody.
You can’t please everybody.

This is the truth of success. I have never been one to acknowledge harsh realities or expect the worst, but I know wise people can do that while maintaining their composure and without becoming pessimistic. I am learning as I go. I don’t expect bad things to happen, but bad things do and I gotta stay moving. If I need to, I’ll tend to the sick but otherwise, eyes are on the future-future. That is a forward-moving feeling. This is about moving forward and knowing what you see in that forward space won’t look like reality now.

Luck has never mattered less. Talent has never had less of an excuse to fail. Hip-hop has not hit a ceiling and I don’t expect you to, either. Thank you hip-hop for the lessons and examples that I can take, learn and throw into new directions.

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