In the 2020s, 'clean rap music' almost seems like an oxymoron. Rap, to many people, has become synonymous with sex, drugs, and violence - common lyrical topics in rap/pop music. While this is not true of all popular rap, it's true of a lot of it - especially the music mainstream culture pushes.
That's not to say mainstream rappers (or their success) don't inspire me. I believe there is a lot that is misunderstood about the genre.
Let me explain. Rappers get a reputation of being unintelligent or uneducated, but to me, a good rapper is excellent with words and keenly observant of society. In the age of dumbed-down culture, people forget that rappers are supposed to be philosophers, truth-tellers, and more in touch with reality than the media and politicians. People often express surprise that "a rapper" would have depth of thought and a valuable perspective on our society. In my view, that's the point of rap: to use lyricism as a way to express deep thoughts and emotions.
However, mainstream hip-hop culture often doesn't have us thinking about rap music that way. As a culture, we glorify, amplify, and propagate the negative perceptions of rap music.
People often tell me, "I don't normally like rap, but I like your music." I think there's reason for that.
Contrary to what popular culture tells us, many people don't gravitate toward lyrics they perceive as hedonistic, dirty, or otherwise devoid of meaning. They especially don't want their young children listening to it.
I touch on this in my song 'Perseverance':
"You're always talking evil in your rap
And I'm trying put my meanings on the map
I gave you 12 rules for life and kept my room clean
I'm the Jordan Peterson of rap."
The truth is, there is a market for "clean rap" music that appeals to a broad audience. Music that is positive and uplifting is valuable, especially in today’s world. I may have even convinced Ben Shapiro of that when I appeared on his Sunday Special!
Whether you're new to the genre or a longtime hip-hop fan, I hope this helped you better understand the value of rap music that goes against the mainstream. If you haven’t heard my latest 'Word of Zuby' album, give it a try and see what you think.