I started listening to rap when I started going out in college, and that was what they played at frat parties. (Never mind that at the time I thought “Lazers” and “I’m on a Boat” counted as real rap, but I’ve come a long way since then…I hope). Sometimes, as an extremely naive white girl, it’s hard to be into rap. I try to identify as much as I can, but once ScHoolboy Q starts talking about things like “selling crack” and “having a daughter,” he loses me. Cue the existential crisis where I struggle to come to terms with my own privilege and the fact that not everything in the world is made just for me.
Sometimes, you need to just forget the harsh reality that you grew up in an upper-middle class family with loving parents who are still married and face no real hardships. Here are the best rap songs to give you that ever-needed dose of selective amnesia:
1 – Chris Brown feat. Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, “Look At Me Now”: This song was no doubt the staple of your nightlife circa 2010. Everyone knew Chris Brown’s and Weezy’s parts by heart, but if you could spit your way through Busta Rhymes’ verse, you were hands-down the coolest kid on the block. Never mind the fact that you had to Rap Genius “suicide doors” and “hari kari,” and that you made the “wax on, wax off” motion when Breezy said “Mr. Miyagi.” The struggle is real, and so is your street cred.
2- Drake feat. Lil Wayne, “The Motto”: Ah, yes. YOLO. Now every time you drink that extra Starbucks Frappuccino or skip a day at the gym, you have Drizzy to thank for your unabashed lack of guilt. Using #YOLO on all your Instagram pics like it’s your job really helps you feel like you’re on Drizzy’s level, because you too have been wronged by a server at a popular food chain, and you know what it’s like to want to just cry into your teddy bear, but instead you force yourself to go out to the club with your friends. They really need to bring back Degrassi.
3 – A$AP Rocky feat. Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and 2Chainz, “Fuckin’ Problems”: Regardless of your sexual orientation, when this song came out you were ecstatic you could finally proclaim to the world that you loved bad bitches and it was a fuckin’ problem. Sure, things got dicey at the end of A$AP Rocky’s verse where you didn’t know whether or not to fake a coughing fit, stand there silently, or just replace the N-word with “ninja” and hope no one would notice. Even if you didn’t have a dick, your favorite part was yelling “GIRL, I KNOW U WANT DIS DIHH!!” at the top of your lungs because that’s what gangstas do, and you definitely used it as a Tinder line once or twice. A month.
4 – Kendrick Lamar feat. Jay Rock, “Money Trees”: Kendrick really gets you with this song because the hook is so catchy you don’t realize you’re not 100% on what the whole “Halle Berry or Hallelujah” thing means exactly, but you know what both of those things are individually so you’re probably good. Luckily the only time the gravity of “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter / But the one in front of the gun lives forever” hit you was when you were really high, so you were able to brush it off without too much introspection. Plus when you get to Jay Rock’s verse and he’s all, “Imagine Rock up in the projects where them n*ggas pick your pockets,” you are there. You practically know what it’s like to live in the projects because there was that one time you got lost on the way to the airport and ended up driving through College Park. And also you totally got pick-pocketed in Barcelona so yes, Jay, I’m totally with you on this one, homie!
5- Migos, “Hannah Montana”: This song was meant for you, you who watched all four seasons of Hannah Montana and bought Miley’s albums before she started trying to dress like she was in A$AP Mob. You may not know how many Migos there are, or if they’re sayin they’ve been “trappin’” or “trippin’” all damn night, but damn it, you loved Hannah Montana, and that’s totally what the song is actually about, isn’t it?