While there definitely seems to be an overabundance of hip-hop songs sexualizing women and glorifying them to the high heavens, it is also important to acknowledge the more humble, sentimental approaches to relationships and dating. Every now and then, a hip-hop artist will give us a song or two, exploring their more emotional side. And when the theme of that song is love, those can often be some of the best work in their discography.
Common – “The Light”
“The Light” is the Grammy-nominated second single from Common’s 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate. In 2012, Common acknowledged via a video for the website RapGenius that the song was, in fact, about Erykah.
Black Star – “Brown Skin Lady”
This is a song from the 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. It sampled Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s “We Almost Lost Detroit”. This song is about Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s admiration and appreciation of brown skin ladies, which include but aren’t limited to Latinas, Indigenious women and African American women.
“Fresher than Tony Rebel’s vegetables at African street festivals
Where incredible women is, plentiful
Over the years I met a few, none of them compare to you
Preparing you to make fruit bearable, somethin terrible”
Nas – “Cherry Wine”
From his 2012 album, Life Is Good. Produced by Salaam Remi, who introduced Nas to Amy and is a frequent collaborator with both, this is one of the LP’s standout tracks. Nasir takes this time to describe what he looks for in a woman.
“I want someone who like the champagne I like
My a-alike, someone to talk me off the bridge any day or night”
Method Man & Mary J. Blige – “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By”
“I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” is a Grammy Award-winning duet performed by rapper Method Man and R&B singer Mary J. Blige. The song is a remix of Method Man’s “All I Need” (which appears on his 1994 debut album Tical) and it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on June 3, 1995.
“Like sweet mornin’ dew, I took one look at you
An’ it was plain to see, you were my destiny”
2Pac – “Keep Ya Head Up”
“Keep Ya Head Up” is a 1993 hit single by Tupac Shakur. The song features R&B singer Dave Hollister and is dedicated to black women and Latasha Harlins.
“I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies that make the babies”
Talib Kweli & Faith Evans – “We Know”
“What we gotta do to make them see
We got a good thing going on”
The song is from The Beautiful Struggle, Talib Kweli’s 2nd studio album released in 2004.
Kendrick Lamar & Drake – “Poetic Justice”
From Kendrick’s 2012 classic, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. The song was released in 2013, and garnered critical acclaim from most music critics. He’s of course talking about Sherane, aka Master Splinter’s daughter.
“I mean I write poems in these songs dedicated to you when
You’re in the mood for empathy, there’s blood in my pen”
Jay-Z & Beyonce – “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”
“[Jay] All I need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend
[Bey] Down to ride ’til the very end, it’s me and my boyfriend”
From 2002’s The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse.
Big Daddy Kane – “Smooth Operator”
“Smooth Operator” is the lead single released from Big Daddy Kane’s 1989 second album, It’s a Big Daddy Thing.
“Well excuse me, take a few minutes, to mellow out
Big Daddy Kane is on the mic and I’mma tell about
A minimum length, of rhymes of strength
And power, so listen to the man of the hour”
Lyric Jones – “Magnetic”
The 2nd track from Lyric Jones’ 2014 EP Love’s Trail Mix.