UPDATED June 17th, 2017
While entertainment and mainstream media often focuses on the negative and sensationalist aspects of hip-hop, this genre of of music offers powerful and sometimes chilling lyrics. A recent article by Paul Cantor in Vibe Magazine pointed out that some hip-hop lyrics that are socially responsible do not have to be overly political. Being a socially conscious rapper is not a rejection of the mainstream, but simply part of who the artist is.
Lyrics in hip-hop are partly tales of street life, sometimes told with in-your-face honesty that can turn some people off. But sometimes, the subtlety of the lyrics evoke what to some feels like a higher art. The fact remains: no matter how hip-hop is categorized or subdivided: ‘gangster’ or ‘conscious’ it is important not to lose sight of the lyricism and poetry of this unique American art form. So, to celebrate National Poetry Month, here are 11 examples of hip-hop lyrics that read like poetry. This list, by the way, makes for an awesome playlist!