Some of my favorite Hip-Hop songs are love ballads. The primary reason why is because songs about love and relationships are often the most revealing and recording artists / songwriters are at their most vulnerable and passionate state of being when they create songs driven on the emotional highs and lows of love.
The MC in Hip-Hop music has a large platform of ideals and issues in which to express upon in the studio, on the stage or just on a street corner. MCs are well known (often in controversial ways) for proudly and loudly expressing themselves on issues dealing with race, violence, war, poverty, politics, etc.
If you were to have a word association exercise in terms of describing Hip-Hop music, the word "love" probably would not be the first thing to come to the minds of most. But in Hip-Hop music there's an abundance of love; love for family, love for friends, love for the community, love of God and genuine and eternal love for women.
Unfortunately the love expressed for women in Hip-Hop is always overshadowed by the negative attitudes and images of women perpetrated by some MCs. Why is this? Well, for a variety of reasons but mostly because the media chooses to expose the negative images and attitudes while ignoring the positive and uplifting performances dedicated to women that are expressed in Hip-Hop. In my opinion, this is done by design, there's a concerted effort to discredit and demonize Hip-Hop. This is done easily and effectively by painting the entire movement with one broad stroke instead of acknowledging, examining and celebrating the complexities of Hip-Hop music and culture.
It'll be easy (way too easy I have to admit) to "expose" countless numbers of Hip-Hop songs that are basically offensive and demeaning to women. But there's much more depth and complexity within the relationship between women and Hip-Hop.
Rapper Fabolous has built a nice career in Hip-Hop music by basically dominating the "love" niche for the last 5-6 years. He's not the best or the most popular when it comes to Hip-Hop love songs. Older Hip-Hop fans 30 and older would say that LL Cool J holds that distinction. Younger fans 21 and younger may attached the "King of Hip-Hop love songs" title to Bow-Wow. But since the earlier part of the new millennium, when it comes to the issues of love and relationships, Fabolous has been the most consistent MC and has the most "street-credible" voice.
Fabolous is not a "lovey-dovey" rapper. He's a MC and his genius is the ability to show a great amount of lyrical skill when rhyming about love, a topic that too many MCs ignore while singers either oversimplify the subject and are often guilty of expressing love in ridiculous, almost cartoon-ish ways (… Baby, baby, baby, ba, ba, baby!)
Fabolous's new single, "Make Me Better" shows the Brooklyn, New York MC doing what he does best; making love songs for the streets that have mass appeal. Fabolous faithfully relies on a formula that has worked well his entire career: Witty, punch-line lyrics about love, sex and relationships set to a Hip-Hop soul track that features a talented R & B artist singing a catchy chorus or hook.
Produced by Timbaland, arguably the most innovative and diversified (check out the work he's doing in Pop music right now) producer in Hip-Hop and featuring Ne-Yo, arguably the most talented (with the greatest potential) singer / songwriter in R & B, "Make Me Better" symbols Fabolous's solid formula perfectly and the song is the street-love anthem of the summer ….
"I'm a movement by myself (Oh!) But I'm a force when were together
Mami I'm good all by myself (Oh!)
But baby you, you make me better
(You make me better) You make me better (You make me better) You make me better
(You make me better) You make me better (You make me better) You make me better … "
Ne-Yo starts the track out right with the chorus, passionately telling his lady through that though he's "good by himself", her presence in his life makes his life better and him a better person. Fabolous, known for his laidback flow, rhymes with his own brand of passion about a special lady that makes his life better. Fabolous rhymes about being "good"; having self-esteem and being confident in whom he is and that his woman completes him, making the vision for his life clearer and fulfilling. He does not simply rely on sex-talk, in "Make Me Better"; Fabolous is conscious of the fact that the relationship he speaks about is deeper than just wild and exciting late night bedroom activities.
On "Make Me Better" Fabolous reveals that his woman not only loves him but is also determined to keep him on the right track to becoming a better person …
"You're keepin me on my A game …
She treats me like a don, watches for the hit
Checks where I go, even watches who I'm with
The right when I'm wrong, so I never slip
Show me how to move, that's why I never trip … "
The lyrics of this song and the vibe of the track are celebratory of a special kind of woman; the type that can actually make an impact and be the monumental difference in a man's life. "Make Me Better" is a love song not about sex. Neither Fabolous nor Ne-Yo makes any reference to sex at all on this record. It's an important point because "Make Me Better" is the kind of song that completely contrasts the portrait and attitude toward women that are often presented through Hip-Hop music and exploited by the mainstream media (Controversy + sensationalism + public outrage = off-the -chart ratings!
The fact that "Make Me Better" focuses on genuine love, respect and appreciation in a relationship puts forth a lesson that can be learned by those who live Hip-Hop culture and seek true love and especially those apart from the culture who do not give a damn about love. Fabolous rhymes about principles and values key to a thriving and long-lasting relationship. We all should seek someone special that will make us better, and in return, we should make them better. "Make Me Better" supports the popular premise that "behind every great man is a great woman" and the song speaks in a language that youth and young adults understand. With so much of Pop culture and society as a whole being so aggressively sex-driven, it's always inspiring to hear Hip-Hop that celebrates the fundamentals of a strong romantic relationship.
The radio-friendly song obviously has more appeal to the ladies and I can just hear it being played in clubs all over the country and the world, weekend after weekend. When you hear "Make Me Better" you can not help but dance or at least bop your head and sing along with the lyrics while holding up the wall. But I hope that young ears also hear the message in the song.
The next time you hear "Make Me Better" on the radio, reflect on your own relationship. Are you involved in a satisfying, productive, healthy, mutual-beneficial and equal relationship? Or are you in a reckless, unhealthy, non-productive, unequal and destructive relationship that revolves around lies, freaky but passion-less sex and endless drama?
It does not matter who you are or where you come from, everyone desires the chance at real love. Real love is powerful and can make a life-changing impact on even the most hardened guys or the most deceptive ladies' man. I do not mind saying that among many the Hip-Hop generation there seems to be a resistance to love, trust and commitment. Marriage is often rejected and too many of us embrace family ("fam") as the friends that we grew up with oppose to the conventional definition; being married with children.
Even In "Make Me Better" Fabolous rhymes about the woman in his life "not having his last name". But the song celebrates an exemplified monogamous relationship and the love, respect and appreciation expressed in "Make Me Better" suggests a courtship that's likely to be consummated through holy matrimony.
Then again, maybe I'm going a little too far!
You know what? "Make Me Better" should have a remix or part II about the wedding and the joys of marriage and family life!
But that's not Hip-Hop, right?
Source by Duane Lawton