If you’re like me, hip-hop’s always been there. When I’ve fallen, thought I was “in love”, when I’ve been rejected, when I was told he was going to sleep but he really went to scope some ample-bootied girl’s Instagram. It didn’t matter — the love was totally unconditional and continues to be. The valentine title will forever belong to hip-hop and the culture.
Now, with Valentine’s Day amongst us again, whether you’ve got an intimate night planned with Bae or Netflix and wine with yourself, you need a playlist. There are always those songs that are a given. From Biggie’s “Me and My Bitch” to Meth and Mary’s “You’re All I Need”, from UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem” to the Lost Boyz’s “Renee”, the classics stay in your iTunes account.
I’ve compiled ten of my favorites, oldies and newbies alike, that may or may not already take up space on your mobile device. They reflect the huge spectrum that is love, some heartfelt and some … er … real. It was super hard narrowing down my list, much less ranking ‘em. However, I think after you’ve taken a peek, you’ll open up that Spotify account and get to groovin’.
Happy Lover’s Day, y’all.
– – –
10. “Tryna Find My Way” – Dom Kennedy
This gem from “Get Home Safely” is honestly too smooth for its own good. Leimert Park’s finest croons, with the help of a melodic young lady, about struggling to find the words when a beauty crosses his path. But, in true Dom fashion, he eventually is able to deliver some honest emotion. What girl wouldn’t swoon after that?
Fave bars: I wrote this song for you. I hope it finds your taste. I know it’s overdue. Just hope it ain’t too late.
9. “Playas Rock” – Hurricane Chris x Boxie
Okay, okay. Hear me out before you judge! This song is such a guilty pleasure but the lyrics can open up quite a bit of dialogue. In the age of unofficial, short-lived relationships, Chris is keeping it quite candid with the ladies about what to expect from a “player” like himself and others cut from the same cloth. If my argument isn’t valid enough, just get into the sample and vibe.
Fave bars: It ain’t nothin’ for me to think of a lie but I’d rather keep it real and tell just how I feel. Looky here – if you see me with another chick, then it’s just what it is.
8. “How’s It Goin’ Down?” – DMX
Arguably my favorite DMX joint, Earl paints a vivid story about falling for a woman in a “situation” with another man. Its raw, relatable content make it transcendent way past the track’s release 15 years ago. Songs like this make me miss DMX’s presence in the industry but give me hope that he’ll return with vigor.
Fave bars: Something can go wrong. It does. Loved it. Let it go. But, it came back. That’s how strong it was. But, you belonged to cuz. Couldn’t belong to me. You had two kids by this nigga. It was wrong for me. But, we gon’ always be best of friends. Mad love, boo, to the end.
7. “West Savannah” – Isaiah Rashad x SZA
I’m a sucker for anything Southern. All things below the Mason-Dixon line give me an astounding amount of life. So, TDE’s own Tennessean Isaiah Rashad already had me hooked. Between SZA’s ethereal voice and Rashad’s ode to his lady, while simultaneously paying homage to Antwan and Andre, I’m not sure what makes me love this 2:47 song more.
Fave bars: Now, can we fall in love while “Southernplayalistic” bangin’ through the night? And, I ain’t never felt no type of way about this, living do or die.
6. “Beep Me 911” – Missy Elliott x Timbaland & Magoo x 702
Ladies, we’ve all been there at one point or another — we fall for a dude, only to be left without a clear sign as to what we are or what this is. It’s holler-inducing, especially when we’ve felt we’ve done all we could to keep the relationship on the up and up. Missy and 702 felt our pain, putting pen to paper and voice to Timbland-crafted production to have us on our Maya Wilkes. Oh, hell yes! Sidenote: does anyone know where I can get those outfits from the video?
Fave bars: I can’t let you go until you take some time to tell me why you left me without a gotdamn sign.
5. “Selfish” – Slum Village x Kanye West x John Legend
If any article lists the best hip-hop love songs and fails to include “Selfish”, it’s a snub. How can you not want to dive into the beauty that is a classic Kanye West production, letting the loop of the Aretha Franklin sample hit you like waves? Each verse different from the last but full in ill content and in the fact that these men love women and they want you ALL selfishly. Don’t come around their girls actin’ like Mr. Friendly. Really. ‘Ye might spaz.
Fave bars: For that Benz, I get CL love. So, I switch my girls around like 3LDub.
4. “Slum Beautiful” – OutKast x Cee-Lo Green
Three of my favorite ATLiens open their southern-fried hearts to express how much they’re really feeling the ladies in their lives. Each verse is one of total and utter praise to women, to beauty, to love in their own, unique way. First, Dre gives props to the girl’s parents for even bringing her into this world. Big Boi’s next, speaking of how aggressive he is with his love, dubbing his woman “Lady Luscious”. Cee-Lo rounds it all off, saying he sees God in the woman he’s with. Sigh, baby. SIGH.
Fave bars: I don’t know but it seem like your daddy must have gave you a teaspoon of honey every night before you went to bed. Or, was it a pack of Now & Laters ‘cause you the sweetest thing on my head.
3. “Bimmer” – Tyler the Creator x Frank Ocean
There are times where Tyler might intimidate some with his aggressive lyrics and “odd” (see what I did there?) sense of humor. Then, there are those other times when he taps into his soft side and gives you pure heat in the winter. “Bimmer” is a great example of that. The Odd Future cat aficionado uses automobile metaphors, innuendoes, and Frank’s orgasmic voice to give you two minutes and thirty-nine seconds of pure YES. Goodness, I wish this wasn’t just an interlude.
Fave bars: Maybe, I don’t know, I think you’re chill. Ridin’ on my pegs and my back’s against your legs. And, a seatbelt is needed if I get between ‘em.
Honorable Mention: Frank’s ad-libs.
2. “Butter” – A Tribe Called Quest
Phife was indeed on point with this one. All he wanted was a fly honey to vibe with him. No games. No stunts. Just pure, organic love for the funky diabetic. Sadly, he’s had his fair share of girls who had the whip appeal but no substance or ill intentions. Fed up with it, he uses the second verse to “keep it real” with these women. Through it all, Phife Dawg takes it in as water off a duck’s back. Why? Well … he’s smooth … like butter, baby. Like this track and those horns.
Fave bars: I remember when girls were goody two-shoes but now? They’ve turned to freaks. All of a sudden, “We love you, Phife!” Ease off, hoe. My name’s Malik. Phife this, Phife that. Where you goin’? Where you at? These girls don’t know me from jack yet I feel like The Mack.
1. “Always Be My Sunshine” by Jay-Z x Foxy Brown x Babyface
Sure, you’ve probably got tens of dozens of Hov songs that instantly go into rotation when Valentine’s Day comes around. Before “Part II (On the Run)”, there was this. But, in my humble opinion, this joint just isn’t given enough credit. I mean, the beat makes you want to put the roof down and let your hair blow in the wind. Not to mention, this was back when Foxy and Jay’s chemistry was off the wall. And Babyface on the hook? Man, listen … I’m already thinking of ways to incorporate the second verse into my nuptials.
Fave bars: We chose each other. You actin’ like you chose me. If they oppose you, then, they oppose me. We could creep at a low speed, the gat in the hosiery. To double-cross you, they gotta triple-cross me. I’m thinking, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. One more thing: if I ever go broke, would you hit the block for me? “For sho’,” she replied, eyes open wide. Put that everything? I put that on my life.
What are some hip-hop love songs you vibe to on the regular?