Humor, Positive Psychology, Psychology, Social commentary, Social Critique

Rap’s Bad Rap

Current hip hop is constantly being reprimanded for its lyrical obsession with hoes, money, drugs and generally un-lofty ideals.  Re-examining some of the lyrics to chart topping favorites has me wondering what influence rap might have on self-esteem. Perhaps radio edits and censored versions of these songs actually endorse a positive self worth, even if you do lack the Maserati and bootylicious body.

This thought occurred to me passing by someone’s blasting headphones on the street this week. A very audible chorus simply¹ stating, “I’m the *bleeping* greatest, yeaaa…” was repeating on loop. In that fleeting moment, I couldn’t help but notice my posture improve and a little swagger develop in my step. “I should probably be listening to more rap”, I thought to myself.

I took it upon myself to investigate the lyrics of a few of the most recently popular raps and get to the heart of the songs. Expletives aside, I noticed some empowering themes emerging, many of which are the cornerstones to developing high self-worth.

     Knowing Yourself

“Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth, *bleep*

My actions been louder than my words, *bleep*”

– Drake, Zero to 100

     Positive Self-Talk

“Numba 1, b—- you can’t replace me (Can’t replace me)”

-Wiz Khalifa, We Dem Boyz

   Accepting Life’s Set Backs 

“Battle wounds on me, you watching me lick ’em clean
I know, I know, my pride, my goals, my highs
My lows, I know, I know, it’s mind control
I know, I could prosper, no imposter”

– Kendrick Lamar, It’s On Again

“They wanna know how I got M’s and I didn’t even finish college”

-Rich Gang, Lifestyle

“I done made a million and I didn’t go to college”

-Yo Gotti, I Know

Scraping the surface of money flaunting and sexual objectification, modern rap may be  the propagation of something beyond aesthetic desires. Put a new spin on it and rap is a tool of empowerment; a way to switch out the negative tape currently playing in your head.

Let me know, comment below :

What are your favorite empowering rap lyrics?

¹Unfortunately, the song’s simplicity was also it’s fault as my Google™ search later that night yielded no results.

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Nostalgia, Psychology

Sentimental Value

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As a kid, my father and I frequently tuned in to PBS’ Antiques Roadshow. Despite it’s seemingly geriatric following, the show had the universal appeal of great emotional suspense. Every episode had me on the edge of my seat. Someone could discover the painting they found in the garbage to be worth thousands, while another person’s smug smile shattered with the realization that their Auntie Sue’s turn of the century, Tiffany vase was in fact a popular dupe complete with a phony signature. I was also consistently impressed by the esoteric knowledge of the appraisers. Two or three tiny details meant the difference in two or three decimal places of an object’s estimated value.


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The most inquisitive aspect of the show for me was pondering what happened after a celebratory reaction took place. In some cases, the antique at hand was haphazardly acquired. This made decision of whether or not to cash in on it seemingly obvious to a non-collector like myself. In most cases, however, the antique had a story behind it. It may have been an exotic trinket brought home from a war, a staple toy from someone’s childhood, or a family heirloom passed down for generations. I often wondered if the awe-inspiring price tags revealed for these objects ever caused hesitation with the owners. “What if I told you this is worth…”, were the famous, instigating words posed by the appraisers. Regardless of whether or not that rhetorical question was answered, the part you never got to see was what happened next.

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Sentimental value is the notion that something possesses such strong ties to our identity (personal,collective or cultural) via a part of our past that it is considered priceless. It transcends any economic designation. It seems that we all have varying tendencies to assign object’s with this construct. For me personally, I’ve never been one to get attached to things. I’d classify myself as a purger over a hoarder. I tend to think experiences trump objects. However, I can see why in some cases one would feel obliged to uphold an object’s legacy if it evokes experiential memories. I have not yet been bequeathed a family artifact but when I do I will probably take photograph of it, laminate it,  and write on the back the address to the museum where I sent it.

Let me know, comment below:   Do you assign sentimental value to things?

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Consumerism, Psychology, Social Critique

YouTube Inception: A Consumer’s Dream

I’ve indulged in mindless YouTube perusal from time to time at my desk job. Amidst more informative TEDtalks or lectures, I occasionally find myself listening to the rant of a complete stranger or watching a DIY video for how to tie shoelaces. Shameless, I know. More often than not, I will find myself incepted in a commericial within a commercial.

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In particular,  “beauty guru” channels, seem to be the most guilty of this trend. Beauty gurus on YouTube predominantly vlog about what they are wearing, review  products and conduct “hauls” which are essentially a tedious review of monthly or weekly purchases. Unboxing, for the layperson, is a term which means a product will allegedly for the first time be taken out of it’s packaging, on camera, and scrutinized in real time. Sound like a savvy consumer’s delight?  Though the target audience may in fact be tweens, as a discerning adult viewer my question is: Why should we listen to you?

Many of these “guru’s” actually land spokesperson deals and I’ve seen a number of them appear in actual commercials on YouTube. Apart from their already heavily sponsored How To videos. It’s great that health and beauty tutorials are available to young girls but the take-away messages of  most, if not all, of these videos seems to be: “buy this”.  Scroll down and you find an About section which merely rattles off hyperlinks of where to purchase mentioned products.

mmmmm      mimicry

Sadly, beauty in a bottle isn’t the only misguided ideal infiltrated by YouTube beauty gurus. Another pervasive trend is videos tagged “Get the look __insert celebrity name__”.  These videos hone in on one teen adored icon and provide a detailed, step-by-step instructional for how to apply make-up and put together an identical rendition of their outfit. Not only do these videos condone superfluous consumerism, they demonstrate to young girls that being yourself isn’t good enough.

 

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