This isn't music I grew up with, so most of my exposure consisted of people playing me songs with brilliant lyrics on the theory that I'd appreciate them because I'm a writer. But here's the problem: for me, music is primarily about sound, not lyrics. I can appreciate great lyrics when I don't like the sound, but I won't ever listen to the song more than once. So because my early rap recs were all based on lyrics, I got the impression that there were tons of fantastic writers in the genre, but I didn't like the sound, so as a musical genre, it just wasn't for me.

Then I heard Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" and experienced the exact same moment my Dad did when he first heard the Beatles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" play on the radio. Three beats in, across forty years, both of us sat up straight and said to ourselves, "My God! What's that sound?!"

So when I ask for song and artist recs, please consider the musical qualities over the lyrics. I'm not worried about finding good lyrics; from my very limited experience, the genre seems to have a very high proportion of good lyrics. That's the easy part.

Unfortunately, I have a poor musical vocabulary, so rather than try to list musical qualities, I will list songs that I like musically, and maybe people who know more about music than me will be able to extrapolate from there.

I have checked out other works by the same artists, but if you want to rec specific albums by them, that would be great.

Songs with a sound that I like:

"Jesus Walks," Kanye West (Generally liked College Dropout, but that was far and away my favorite)

"None Shall Pass," Aesop Rock

"Without Me," "Mockingbird," "Like Toy Soldiers," Eminem

"Entrez Vous," Sniper

"Ode to O-Ren Ishii" RZA (Kill Bill soundtrack)

"Baby Got Back," Sir Mix-A-Lot (It's catchy! I can play it over and over!)

Others seem to have vanished into the mists of memory and my car's CD stash. [livejournal.com profile] yhlee, what was that first song on the mix you made for me recently?

Recs for female artists would be nice.
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From: [identity profile] hooveraardvark.livejournal.com


there are just not many female artists out there, at least prominent ones. the most obvious is missy elliott, i personally really like jean grae though more for her skills and lyrics than the music.

try the following:

wu-tang clan - enter the wu-tang: 36 chambers
dizzee rascal - showtime (i love all 3 of his albums though)

i will have more shortly, let me think about it.

From: [identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com


These are pretty old recs, but...I was a big fan of NWA's Straight Outa Compton album when it came out. Also "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy.

From: [identity profile] mamculuna.livejournal.com


Nothing to recommend, but wanted exactly the same thing--thanks! I'll check back and see what you get.

I'm liking Kanye's "Stronger" and Rihanna's "Umbrella" which is only in that category because of the J-Z at the beginning, I think.


From: [identity profile] vom-marlowe.livejournal.com


I recently got some great hip hop recs. My latest hip hop mix includes several Faith Evans songs. I deeply love the sound of her voice rising out of the lyrics--it's just....beautiful. "Hope" is my current favorite.

I've also been listening to Nelly's Country Grammar CD.

From: [identity profile] veejane.livejournal.com


OMG! Sometimes I think I am one of few people on my flist who listen to music as sound, rather than music as lyrics. Glad to know I have company. [livejournal.com profile] heresluck did a hip-hop pimping post over the summer, if you can find it. Late August or early Sept., I think.

I have a weird relationship with Jay-Z, in that he's got some cool musicality going on (he sampled "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie one time), but I couldn't keep "99 Problems", even the Gray Album version, which was cool, because I couldn't get over the use of "bitch" in the lyrics. Like, I didn't think I cared about lyrics at all, till I discovered I couldn't ignore them. If you can bear that, I think you might like him.

All of my female rap entries are turning up late-80s/early-90s, and after that I skew towards R&B instead. So, do you have any thoughts on Neneh Cherry? She famously did "I've Got You Under My Skin" for the original Red Hot + Blue, but I have one of her earlier albums lying around somewhere.
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From: [personal profile] oyceter


Sometimes I think I am one of few people on my flist who listen to music as sound, rather than music as lyrics.

I totally do that as well! And then I feel stupid when I realize I cannot recall lyrics to any songs that I don't play repeatedly in my car (and even then, it's a toss up).

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From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com


"What Would You Do" by City High. The rest of the songs on that album are not very like it, however.

I'll be watching to see what people rec you! *g* I'm the same way--I appreciate lyrics intellectually, but I want the sound.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter


Watching this space for recs, since my musical knowledge is somewhere in the negative numbers.

Btw, did you see the Robin Wood vid and like the song? I can send it to you; it earwormed me.

From: [identity profile] sophia-helix.livejournal.com


I am soooo, so not rap or hip hop-knowledgable, but you'd probably like Eve ("Gotta Man" and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind") and Queen Latifah (try "U.N.I.T.Y.") I also highly recommend DJ Danger Mouse's mashup of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album into the Grey Album (which isn't for sale, of course).

I actually need to find some music along these lines myself since I'm about to write some Gunn fic and feel like I have very little understanding of his cultural background.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


What part of LA is Gunn from? I might be able to fill you in on some (non-musical) elements.

From: [identity profile] kintail.livejournal.com


This one of those questions I keep thinking I should ask (and then forgetting to), so I'll be looking up the ones you like and watching the comments for recs, too.

Sorry I don't have any to offer, but thank you for asking the question!

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


This is Lifesavas, from SPIRIT IN STONE:
http://download.yousendit.com/0776528875555D35

And I'm totally grooving on Gipsy's ROMANO HIPHOP.

A friend recently recced a Japanese group to me, called Dragon Ash. I don't have their cd yet, though.

Female artists:
You've heard Lauryn Hill, right?

I love Salt-N-Pepa's VERY NECESSARY--"Shoop" and "Whatta Man" were big hits from that one. It's a classic!

If Mary J. Blige counts, I like her, too.

Queen Latifah--she's hit or miss for me, depending on the song. I actually like her singing better than her rapping.

I have an Australian cd by Macromantics--so far I only love one song on it. Needs another listen.

I didn't get into Foxy Brown or Charli Baltimore.

From: [identity profile] wintersweet.livejournal.com


Oh yeah, I just sent MJB's "Work That" to a friend.

Oh, and somehow I forgot Gorillaz. :)

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From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


Talk to M and B. (he played one for me a couple weeks ago that just slayed me.)

From: [identity profile] wintersweet.livejournal.com


"Jesus Walks" blew my socks off too, but I haven't been that enamored of his other stuff. Oh well.

I like MC Solaar, who's French. Try "Caroline" and "La Belle et Le Bad Boy." Oh, there's some good stuff (Nujabes, etc.) on the Samurai Champloo soundtracks. I think "Battlecry" is my favorite. If you like "Ode to O-Ren" you'll probably like this stuff too. I had more hip-hop on my old computer but I'm not finding much on this one.

(Here are my "fake hip-hop" recs that I'm embarrassed to mention: For pure goofiness I love Halcali, a Japanese female duo, but that's pretty much pop with occasionally fast spoken-word interludes. Check out several of their videos on Youtube if you ever need a lift, heehee. I recommend "Giri-giri Surfrider," "Tandem," and the non-live version of "Marching March." Rip Slyme is a related group, more laid-back but also with wacky videos. Cibo Matto also did great spoken-word stuff, but it's visual-kei, not hip-hop. "Sci-Fi Wasabi" and "Le Pain Perdu" are my favorites. I also sometimes like Energy, a Taiwanese hip-hop group, but I can't defend 'em--they're terrible, crappy bubblegum that's just fun to me for some reason. Dragon Ash is probably one of the more credible Japanese hip-hop groups, but they don't appeal to me.)

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


The new Kanye West album, GRADUATION, is more like COLLEGE DROPOUT than the last one, and has that darker tone I liked from "Jesus Walks" and "Two Words."

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From: [identity profile] arielstarshadow.livejournal.com


I'd suggest at least taking a listen to some of the groups in the very beginnings of rap - Grand Master Flash (and the Furious Five) and the Sugar Hill Gang.

Neneh Cherry does some rapping as well.

From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com


Oh--remind me to play you some Nellie McKay if you haven't heard her. She does some pop but also rap, and "Toto Dies" is fantastic. She works for me musically and lyrically in some amazing ways.

From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com


Oh--"Toto Dies" is not rap. But I will play you some of the rap, too, and you should still hear "Toto Dies."

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From: [identity profile] spectralbovine.livejournal.com - Date: 2008-02-27 12:09 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] likethemodel.livejournal.com


My brother is in love (love love) with Lupe Fiasco. I don't know if you'd like this, but Superstar (http://download.yousendit.com/D05F92A064889431)is one of my very favorite of his songs.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (kimpine-racket)

From: [personal profile] roadrunnertwice


I really like Blackalicious's sound. Try listening to the first five tracks of Blazing Arrow all in a row -- my first time hearing those was just like whoa.

Jurassic 5 has a kinda similar sound, and I like them, too. Also good: Most of what Del the Funky Homosapien's been involved in (man, that voice), Talib Kweli, Snoop Dogg...

And, as was the case for many a white boy before me, it was A Tribe Called Quest that got me to pay attention to hiphop in the first place. They're still one of my favorites. Good stuff.

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


Quest is fun!

"I don't eat no ham an' eggs, 'cause they're high in cholesterol"

"apple sauce and some nice red beets"
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From: [identity profile] shewhohashope.livejournal.com


For female artists: Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill. And Floetry, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, Eve (on occasion).

Male artists I like: Kanye, Outkast, Kano, MC Solaar, Nas, Lupe Fiasco... I go back and forth on Jay-Z.

I'll make a post with some samples you can download.


From: [identity profile] amadyce.livejournal.com


Here are some that I don't think have been mentioned.

For some good old skool sounds try Bobby Brown(My Prerogative, Don't Be Cruel) or Montell Jordan (This Is How We Do It).

I always love No Scrubs by TLC. Usher is kind of pop but has some good stuff. I like You Make Me Wanna. And my Fave Missy Elliott is Hot Boyz, but The Rain is really good too.

If you're not opposed to explicit lyrics, then try these ladies.
Da Brat- Runnin' Out of Time, F*** You, What's On Ya Mind
Foxy Brown-Candy
Trina-Pull Ova', It's Your Birthday

From: [identity profile] amadyce.livejournal.com


Oh, and you might like nobody knows+. Japanese hip hop/rap. Try Mebae. The video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHScg8vZO6I/) is hilarious.

eta: Okay I'm terrible at this html linky thing. But just search YouTube for mebae.

From: [identity profile] jeremytblack.livejournal.com


Lauryn Hill's first (only?) solo album is amazing (Education something blah blah, I can't remember the whole name).

I like Gnarls Barkely (which is C-Lo from The Goody Mob and Danger Mouse together as a team). Musically their first CD is a wild assortment, and their new one is coming out right now.

I played you Outkast's Hey Ya once in the car, and I think you liked that musically, so the whole CD that's from is great (okay, a lot of it is). It's a double CD in which each album was one member's sort of solo CD, and I like a great deal of each one.

A new song/group (to me) I just discovered is Blue Scholar's song "Guns and Butter." Loving that a great deal.

I second the idea of going back to Grandmaster Flash, love Public Enemy's "Fear of a Black Planet" double CD, too, in terms of classics.

Given that you like others by him: When I started teaching, my first year, I have to admit that my kids turned me on to Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," and musically "Without Me" is fun, too.

If I think of more, I'll blather later.

From: [identity profile] shati.livejournal.com


"Jesus Walks" is gorgeous.

I'd second a lot of the recs you've already gotten -- I love Eve's "Who's That Girl" as well as "Let Me Blow Your Mind" -- and I'd add Imani Coppola. A couple of her more famous songs:

Legend of a Cowgirl (I've got a vid to this in the works, so I can't not rec it -- plus the official music video is awesome, and on Youtube)
Raindrops from the Sun

And 'cause I've been finding it irresistibly catchy lately despite the fact that I'm not 30:
30th Birthday
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From: [identity profile] coffeeandink.livejournal.com


Thanks for posting this. I loved "Legend of a Cowgirl."

From: [identity profile] dremiel.livejournal.com


She sort of dropped off my radar when she took off to have a baby but I love Ya Kid K! She was part of the mid 90s NYC Hip Hop/Electronica thing and lives on on my workout playlists!
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From: [identity profile] used-songs.livejournal.com


Hi. I just wanted to step in and offer the following possibilities: Cut Chemist ("Motivational Speaker"), Beastie Boys, Blackalicious, Consequence, Snap! ("The Power of Bhangra"), MC Hawking, MC Frontalot, MC Lars ("Ahab"), Bahamadia, and The Lady of Rage ("Afro Puffs").

Hope that's helpful.

From: [identity profile] badnoodles.livejournal.com


"Big Gun" by Ice-T (it's on the "Tank Girl Soundtrack") is one of my favorite rap songs. I also like "Release Yo Delf" by Method Man, but that's almost more electronica than it is rap.

From: [identity profile] spectralbovine.livejournal.com


Okay, no one appears to have mentioned M.I.A. for some reason! M.I.A. does this sort of blend of world music and hip-hop, and it's very different from anything else I've heard. She's from Singapore. I recommend "Bucky Done Gun," "Galang," "Fire Fire," "World Town," and "Paper Planes."

Also, I've only heard the one Lady Sovereign song, "Love Me or Hate Me," but she's a fun British rapper.

And while we're in Britain, take a look at Lily Allen, who is very light and airy. Check out "Alfie," "Everything's Wonderful," and the one everyone knows, "Smile."

From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com


I second both the M.I.A. and Lady Sovereign recs, and will send you examples if you like.

Also, I know it's obvious and I know there are issues with his personal stances, but have you heard Eminem? I do think he's genuinely talented, particularly the stuff from "The Eminem Show" CD.
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