Given the current social climate, with an ongoing pandemic here to wipe the floors with our happiness, I have come to a realization that humans really can’t take loneliness. We’re hard-wired to always fancy a little company no matter how much we deny it. And there’s actual biological rationale behind this. You see, our ancestors had to survive, and the only way they could do that in the belligerent times of the late Cenozoic Era was to stick to their kind. And that formed the basis on which the convoluted structures of human society evolved. Good job ‘monke’, always doing us proud. And in times the likes of these- a literal pandemic- socializing is the one thing we just can’t do. Seems kind of unfair doesn’t it?
So what is to be done? Is there a way for us to feel better about our miserable lives, I hear you ask? Of course. You guys know I wouldn’t just kick you all down like that, right? Our long-sought-after salvation comes in clutch nestled snugly in the eclectic world of music, here to save the day again. Whilst each genre is gratifying in its own way, I’ll be focusing on the one that has proved to be helpful in my life against the enigmas that are loneliness, sadness and despair: Good old fashioned Hip-Hop.
Before you scoff, I’d like to clarify that by Hip-Hop I mean ‘Lyrical rap’ and not what ‘rappers’ like Lil Pump are dumping out. No offence to the people who like such rap, but to me, it just transpires as meaningless mumbling which couldn’t ever do justice to the charm of rap. In my mind, a good rap song should embrace the genre’s root- roots which are akin to poetry. You see, rap was never completely about the catchy hooks and meaty beats we are used to hearing in contemporary Hip-Hop. An ever-so-greater part was actually about telling a story to an audience.
Subjectively speaking, for a rap song to not go awry, it must have a plausible reason behind its existence. That is to say, it must be compelling to the mind. The message should be rational, comprehensible and- most importantly- relatable. A good rapper writes about instances from their life which they think are worthy enough to be broadcasted for the world to know; not about how much ‘ice’ is on their wrists or how much money they blew on a Saint Laurent Jacket. Rappers like NF, Eminem (the older one of course), Joyner Lucas, Logic, Tupac (RIP), and the likes of such artists illustrate this perfectly. If you pay attention to what they’re saying, you’ll frequently find them talking about the hopelessness they face in life. Just like they would to a friend.
And in doing that, not only are those rappers helping themselves by making rap a conduit to channel their own emotions through, they’re also helping all the lonely folks who just need a soul to talk to. Entrancing the crestfallen with their mesmerizing realism and cutting all the unimportant platitudes, It literally feels like that long awaited one-on-one talk with the friend who understands you. Sure, it might not suffice enough to be a replacement for an actual companion, but the power Rap holds in this context is simply too significant to be ignored.
I’ve had many people tell me how much listening to a rapper talk about their hardships has helped them ‘overcome their demons’. Some have even gone so far as to say that rap holds legitimate therapeutic value. And when you think about it, that does make sense. Listening to someone put your deepest secrets into words and making you realise that you’re not alone in feeling a certain way can help some people with coming to terms with the way they feel. Add to that the proven mental health benefits music can have and you’ve got yourselves quite the package. And for me, rap being extremely fun to ‘jam’ to seal the deal.
Music, in its essence, is way more than just another ‘mode of entertainment’, and I believe a mere article could never do justice to this statement. It helps us articulate ‘that side of us that no one understands’. It proves to be really impactful in making us happy, but also in making us understand why we might be sad. That’s a power to behold.