Contrary to popular belief, hip-hop isn’t all guns, money, flow and fat beats. It has a softer side that many outsiders (and those in the game) fail to recognise through the macho bravado that is so familiar to some. Trying to express how you really feel about the woman you love isn’t just for R&B and it’s a point many have proven over time. February is not just Black History Month but the month of love too (shoot me now), so I’ve put together a short list of the most romantic rap songs to help your awaken your inner Casanova. F.Y.I. thats not the name of a rapper kids.
- DISCLAIMER: The following is list compiled by me, for you, based SOLELY ON MY OPINION. I know there are millions upon millions of songs out there and you may have a song or two that you feel qualify to be on this list, so I encourage you to mention them in the comments below. Just don’t be a hater.
LL Cool J – I Need Love (1987)
Artist: LL Cool J
Song: I Need Love
Album: Bigger and Deffer (1987)
The 80’s is still considered by many to be The Golden Age of hip-hop and I completely agree. What a time it was. The genre seemed to evolve faster than the commercial media could anticipate. Rap music had a rough edge and the rise of gangsta rap only enforced the hardcore image, which is why I Need Love was such an iconic rap song. LL Cool J broke out as a pioneer of pop rap with this tune that allowed even the most thuggish to express how they felt about that special someone.
LL talks about how he has come to the realisation that true love is missing in his life and he needs to change his playa ways to find the girl that he can share a life with. Yeah, that may seem pretty cheesy these days, plus a hundred and one songs like that have appeared throughout the years but back then you needed help from Mr. Smith to tell your lady how you really feel without being a sensitive R&B guy. The airy keyboard and simplistic, original Roland 808s make it an absolute classic as far hip-hop ballads go. Available on iTunes.
Favourite Line: “…You can scratch my back, we’ll get cozy and huddle/ I’ll lay down my jacket so you can walk over a puddle/…”
The Roots ft. Erykah Badu – You Got Me (1999)
Artist: The Roots & Erykah Badu
Song: You Got Me
Album: Things Fall Apart
Before they became the house band for Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show (…something I still have mixed feelings about) The Roots were the iconic hip-hop band of the late 90s. This song helped their fourth studio album, Things Fall Apart, to catapult them to the mainstream and into the favour of critics, even going as far as winning them, and Erykah, the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
In the song, Black Thought (lead vocalist/rapper) tells a story about meeting a girl while on tour and the complications that occur when trying to make a relationship like that work while being a working musician. What adds to the story is the female perspective provided by female rap icon, Eve, who was fairly unknown at the time and, unfortunately, does not make an appearance in the video or get any commercial credit. This was a surprise hit for the band, who believed the song catered to more of a ‘conscious’ audience but the chilled vibe complimented Erykah’s vocals so well that you couldn’t help but get lost in this songs soulfulness. Available on iTunes.
Favourite Line: “…So when you sweatin’ on stage think of me when you rhyme/ And don’t be listenin’ to your homies they be leavin you blind/…”
50 Cent ft. Nate Dogg – 21 Questions (2003)
Artist: 50 Cent & Nate Dogg
Song: 21 Questions
Album: Get Rich or Die Tryin’
I may not have been able to appreciate this song completely when it came out (I mean, I was only 12) but years later it’s still a great song, even more so with a hook sung by the late great Nate Dogg. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was the album that put the name ’50 Cent’ in every conversation about rap, from Montana to Mumbai! His impressive story of survival helped to paint the picture of life in the less favourable parts of New York City.
The video illustrates the song’s story perfectly. It begins with 50 Cent relaxed in his house (countin’ dat money!) when suddenly, the house is raided by SWAT and he is carted off to jail. On his way there, and while on the inside, he ponders the relationship he has with his girlfriend, played by (the absolutely stunning) Meagan Good, and whether or not she’ll be down to ride through all the trials that life has to offer. Having someone that’s there for you through thick and thin is a universal want and a feeling that we all hope to share. Available on iTunes.
Favourite Line: “…If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century/ Could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?/…”
Soulja Boy ft Sammie – Kiss Me Thru The Phone (2008)
Artist: Soulja Boy & Sammie
Song: Kiss Me Thru The Phone
Now this one is definitely my personal favourite. Seriously, I don’t care what anybody else says, this my JAM! (use your best Shakespeare voice when you read) ‘Twas the last year or so of high school for me and bot does it make me think back to my lovestruck days of teenager-dom. You see, we didn’t have emojis back then and we actually had to make phone calls to our girls, so you best believe this was how we did it. Soulja Boy burst onto the scene with his 2007 smash, Crank Dat, and many didn’t see him lasting another year (including me) but after this track came out, I was singing a different tune.
In the video we see couple after couple pouting their lips and blowing kisses to each other over the phone (like the song says…of course). Even Soulja Boy appears in scenes making videos for his honey as he is unable to to be with her because of…rap stuff. In today’s world we’ve got things like Skype and FaceTime, so it may just be cheesy to some but for me it remains a classic of pop rap. If you need any more convincing, it eventually peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Available on iTunes.
Favourite Line: “…All that, everyday I need ya/ And everytime I see ya/ My feelings get deeper/…”
Tory Lanez – Say it (2016)
Artist: Tory Lanez
Song: Say it
Album: I Told You
Even when I was doing research for this article, people that I spoke to didn’t agree with this last choice but really, I couldn’t leave it out (I’m listening to it as we speak). Tory Lanez got all of the industry’s attention with his 2014 mixtape, Lost Cause, and dominated R&B charts with this single. The Canadian born rapper proved that he’s not just a talented writer and rapper, but also a singer that can do more than just hold a note. It’s no wonder that he stands out with this ballad that features a sample of the song If You Love Me by Brownstone.
Tory talks about the honesty that’s required in relationships and being able to see peoples true intentions after he gets rejected by a girl that would later change her mind once she sees the foreign car that he drives. He speaks about being real from the start and never underestimating the love people will show towards you because they think you have money. That’s a fact that is emphasised in the video when the girl eventually leaves him at the end for someone ‘with more money’. R&B rappers aren’t as rare a deal as they used to be but Mr. Lanez is just something else altogether. Available on iTunes.
Favourite Line: “…Gots to break it down for you/ To let you know you notice things you know I’m down for/…”
Don’t feel stuck this Valentine’s Day. These songs are sure to come in handy so make sure you have them on your playlist. If you’ve got any songs you think would be great on this list then drop us a thought in the comments section below.