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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Consumer Culture, Consumerism, Decision-making, Humor, Psychology

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

 

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Each time I enter a store, even for the most simple purchases, it invariably leads to an inner struggle. I might just need some dish soap. That’s all. Yet, somehow time invested in the experience always exceeds the time I’d allotted once I’m in the aisle getting down to business. I attribute this, not just to a degree of neuroticism, but to option infiltration. When is the last time you saw only one, or two versions of a product in a store that wasn’t a gas station express mini-mart, or a hospital gift shop? And even those places seem to be getting fancy.

Like many people, I enjoy my options. They seem so empowering. I suppose it brings out the democratic, liberty lovin’, part of me. The issue is, much like other confections of democracy, it’s been frosted to excess. And I’m frozen in the aisle of a grocery store. I want to get on with my life.  Despite my awareness of option overload, putting haste into practice in the face of thirty dish soaps is easier said than done.

Instead, my thought process might go something like this:

The spendthrifty, overly-analytical side of me takes complete control of the situation- hijacking my mind and body. I find myself crouching and straining my neck in the strangest and most unthinkable positions, shocked by this new found flexibility. My eyes scan every label and price tag. I might even go out of my way to flag down an associate, only to verify the price of a lone ranger, non-designated bottle. “What if THAT’S the cheapest one?, I’ll tell myself. Price isn’t the only consideration, though. Cheapest one doesn’t mean shit if I’m going to be dousing my dishes with diluted toxins later on. Is there an organic option? It’s mine. Now I’m wondering what organic actually means in terms of safety. *Consults iPhone* Fighting a barrage of distracting characters, numbers and symbols on the screen; now my math brain comes alive. Suddenly I’m converting fluid ounces to ounces. I can do math? The clock on my screen makes its way into my periphery. I glance back at the aisle. Lemon is probably the least offensive scent. What does “Original” smell like? I know I enjoy feeling that way. Abruptly a Dawn oil spill commercial flashes into my mind and I’m sympathizing with their eco friendliness despite the .74 cent upcharge. Don’t you dare act in self interest. But, but.. “Softer feeling hands in 3 uses? …OLAY!” I decide to go with it. After all, it’s still made by Dawn. I proceed to the check out, contented by my utilitarianism. This way I’m killing two birds with one stone…

Oh, but that doesn’t sound good.

Scholarly Stuff : Psychologists are researching how choice can affect our well-being. Check out Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, to further probe this connection.

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