My name is Rem Harris, a senior at Hendrix College in Conway, AR. This blog is inspired by my Religion and Pop Music course taught by Dr. Jay McDaniel. Here, I explore how music is inspired by spirituality and religion by engaging with authors such as Robin Sylvan, Ann Powers and so forth. I hope you enjoy!
1. Dr. Maceo Woods - It's Been A Mighty Good Day
Gospel music was exclusive in my childhood. I went to church nearly every Sunday, and when I heard this song as a teenager my love for gospel was rekindled. The lyrics are simple: "I may not have done everything that I wanted to do, but Lord its been a mighty good day."
2. Tupac - Dear Mama
I have always had a respect and great love for my mother. She sacrificed so much for me to have the opportunities I have now. And when Tupac says "It ain't a woman alive that can take my mama's place" it resonated deeply within me.
3. Starlito, Don Trip - Caesar and Brutus
While this song is very NSFW (not safe for work), the instrumental of the song feels like something out of Al Pacino gangster flick. Starlito and Don Trip trade verses about the disadvantages of love in a life of crime, and how Starlito's--who plays the role of a man who is helplessly in love with a conniving woman--gullibility prohibits them from making money. I love this song because I love storytelling in rap music. The ability to paint a picture through words and sound is slowly becoming a lost art in the rap realm presently.
4. T.I. - Still Ain't Forgave Myself
I have always been drawn to T.I.'s storytelling. I believe I first heard this song as an adolescent, around twelve or thirteen years of age. I felt T.I.'s words when he said "at 14, mane I thought I knew everything," but I felt a sympathy and shock when he rapped about his experiences selling drugs at such a young age. T.I.--known as T.I.P. at the release of his debut album I'm Serious--truly captivated me during the chorus. Even though he has amassed his riches, he still expresses a sadness and legitimate remorse for the pain he caused to get there.
5. Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal
Anti-Gravity Lean. Simple as that. I was hypnotized by Michael Jackson's voice. After all, who isn't? But the instrumentation, the delivery, the edge in his voice was enough to make this my favorite song by him. Seeing his infamous lean cemented the song and overtook the "moonwalk" as my favorite Jackson dance move.
6. Ice Cube - It Was a Good Day
I played this song everyday during the second semester of my freshman year in college. As soon as my roommate left for class I would play this song as loud as I could. I had to convince myself that today would be great, even though I wasn't super in love with my surroundings. The Isley Brothers sample and Cube's opening lyrics is something I lived by, and this song helped me get through a very uncertain time in my academic career.
7. J. Cole - Be Free (David Letterman)
This song became more prevalent to me as more black men became victims of police brutality. J.Cole's cry for freedom is chilling, and his added verse on Letterman's stage exhibited a frightening reality for young black men across the nation.
8. Nelly - Ride Wit Me
This song was a staple of my childhood. Nelly's country slang and sing-songy voice still makes me crave my younger days.
9. LION BABE, Moe Moks - Rockets
This song is such a vibe. LION BABE's voice and Moe Moks complementary "WE LIT, WE LIT" makes the song much more groovier, like something out of an Austin Power's movie. This song always manages to make me feel better when I feel down.
10. Erykah Badu - Love of My Life
Erykah Badu telling the tale of how she fell in love with hip-hop is sort of hypnotic. Hip-Hop always has a way of influencing people differently, and hearing her story has always been a favorite of mine.