Finally, A Great 21st Century Hip Hop Song

I love hip hop. Actually, let me qualify that – I like hip hop that tells a story, preferably with a heavy slice of social commentary. The best hip hop songs let us into a world that we otherwise would never see or provide some social commentary that let us see society in a different way.

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, these sort of songs abounded: The Message. Fight The Power.  C.R.E.A.M. It Was A Good Day. And one of the best written and most ambitious concepts ever: Nas’ One Love.

Unfortunately, in the mid-90’s, hip hop became really commercially successful and instead we got mindless drivel like It’s All About The Benjamins and more recently Roll Call. These songs might get people on the dance floor, but you won’t be listening to them five years after they’re written.

In fact, the only song with any soul that might have come out this century was probably Hate It Or Love It.  What’s more, is I’ve found myself wondering how we could have just gone through the worst economic crisis in generations and there hasn’t been one hip hopper who’s written a song about it. After all, this was originally protest music, and there’s a lot to protest these days!

Thankfully, there’s finally a hip hop song that captures all the confusion of these past few years. Unfortunately, the original version is almost unlistenable – despite it’s great lyrics – but a few weeks ago it was repackaged in a fantastic form.

What song am I talking about? Dizzee Rascal’s Dirtee Cash performed as a mash-up with Florence + The Machine’s You’ve Got The Love at the 2010 Brit Awards:

The lyrics to this song are awesome. Dizzee spits them so fast that you might not notice them at first, so give them a read here – especially verse 3 – and reflect on why no one else is singing about this today:

[Dizzee Rascal]
Let’s go
Everybody wants to be famous,
Nobody wants to be nameless, aimless,
People act shameless
Tryna live like entertainers,
Want a fat crib with the acres,
So they spend money that they ain’t made yet,
Got a Benz on tik that they ain’t paid yet,
Spend their pay cheque
In the West End on the weekend
Got no money by the end of the weekend.
But they don’t care cause their life is a movie,
Starring Louis V, paid for by yours truly,
Truthfully, it’s a joke, like a bad episode of Hollyoaks,
Can’t keep up with the cover notes,
So they got bad credit livin’ on direct debit in debt
they still don’t get
Cause they too busy livin’ the high life, the night life
Huggin’ the high when livin’ it large
And they all say

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

[Dizzee Rascal – Verse 2]
Let me take you down to London city
Where the attitude’s bad and the weather is shitty
Everybody’s on a paper chase
It’s one big rat race
Everybody’s got a screw face
So many 2 face,
Checkin their high just like their ready to ride
I’m on the inside looking at the outside
So it’s an accurate reflection
City wide, north, east, west and the southside
Everywhere I go there’s a goon on the corner
Guns and drugs cause the city’s like a sauna
And it’s getting warmer, and out of order
Tryna put a struggling mother to a mourner
Mr politician can you tell me the solution
What’s the answer, what’s the conclusion
Is it an illusion, is it a mirage
I see young’n’s die because they tryna live large
And they all say

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on all of you
Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through
(Check it, check it, come on, come on)

You got the love
(Who’s got the love)
You got the love
(Who’s got the love)
You got the love
(That’s right, thats right, thats right)
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

[Dizzee Rascal – Verse 3]
We are living in the days of the credit crunch
Give me the dough
I’m tryna have a bunch
But I cant have rice for lunch
Its not there ain’t enough to share
It ain’t fair never dreamed that he could be rare
Who cares who dares to make a change
Everybody in the club trying to make it rain
But not for famine just for the sake of having
15 minutes of fame and everywhere’s the same
Again and again I see the same thing
Everybody acting like they their plane sailin’
I see rough seas ahead maybe a recession
And then a depression in whatever professon
This is my confession I can’t front I’m in the forefront
Living for money ready to start like a bungee jump
With no rope but I ain’t trying to see the bottom
Because thats where I came from, I ain’t forgotten,

Note: lyrics grabbed from KillerHipHop.