Hip Hop music is constantly the subject of much scrutiny. An entire genre of music is vilified for having empty lyrics about materialism, misogyny and the glorification of violence. Hip Hop music is unfairly scapegoated because it's misunderstood. More English grammar and literature is in the lyrics of these songs than anyone ever gives credit for: similes, metaphors, entendre, puns and more. The problem is people aren't willing to give it a chance, even looking down on those who enjoy it. Some of the blame is deserved for certain songs, but what is perfect? On the other hand there are songs that couldn't be more meaningful, yet people fail to see it. Jay Z is a prime example of an artist whose deep lyrics consistently go over people's heads. A song called "Somewhereinamerica" off his newest album is a song that's on the top of the charts and playing loudly at clubs, but if you actually pay attention, you can see what the song is talking about.
"Somewhereinamerica" is a song off of Magna Carta Holy Grail, and it's a song about racism still being alive in America. In an interview that Jay Z recently had with Elliot Wilson, he describes what the album itself is about. According to Jay, the album is a very personal piece that is political in many ways. He specifically talks about "Somewhereinamerica" being a song about racism in America, but somewhere in America, there are people of all races embracing African-American culture, and how that could only happen in America. Miley Cryus is twerking and black culture overall has taken over the country, but if you only listen to it without analyzing it, then it's very easy to not see what he's saying. There's a much deeper message hidden behind humor and wit. He's telling people it's not possible to teach racism when your child wants to be like us, when your child is so connected to our culture, when any white girl in middle America is learning a black or Hip Hop dance. According to Jay Z, today's youth are colorblind, and that's driving racists crazy. This song is very clearly about something more than a catchy listen.
Aside from what Jay Z actually intended for the song to be about, it's even clearer if you actually look at the lyrics.
New money, they looking down on me/
Blue bloods, they trying to clown on me/
You can turn up your nose high society/
Never gone turn down the homie/
Knock knock I'm at your neighbor house/
Straight cash I bought ya neighbor out/
You should come to the housewarming/
Come and see what your new neighbor 'bout.
He's telling you about old money snobs who came from wealth looking down upon Jay-Z, who has amassed a self-made fortune. These people are looking at him as if they're better than him, but he wants them to know he's not going to forget his roots. He knows people don't want him in their neighborhoods, but he's moving there whether you like it or not; and if you're open to him, then he's open to you. That's a much deeper song than if you just superficially hear Jay Z talking about Miley Cyrus twerking, don't you agree?
Mahbod and the guys over at RapGenius are the pioneers in helping people understand that lyrics have more meaning than people understand. Just type in any song you want, and you'll find it along with the meanings of the lyrics.
It's easy to dismiss Hip Hop music because of the sometimes-gritty lyrics, but the artists are taking advantage of the fact people aren't listening, a prime example being Jay Z. They're using it to make the person who's quick to make an accusation guilty of actual ignorance, and not the other way around. This is a genre ripe for discovery, analyzation and appreciation. It's been around for over 25 years, has been getting more popular with each increasing day, and is just waiting to start being taken seriously. Be one of the first people to understand that Jay Z really is in the same arena as some of the classical great poets talked about in English classes all over the country, and start giving it a chance today.