Although the 90’s is accredited with the true era of classic love songs, it can be debated that the 2000’s provided classic love songs “for the streets”.The 2000’s is perhaps the last instance of true romanticism in rap music as it’s successor the 2010’s illustrates an era in which women are simply objects and pieces to be collected. In this article we’ll delve into the love language of rap artists of artists from this time period and discuss the evolution of “love” in rap.
We can’t begin the discussion of love in rap music without first acknowledging the pioneer of love rap, LL CooL J. LL Cool J’s 1987 “I Need Love” would mark the first popular instance in which a rapper dropped the act and duty of social commentary and professed his love for a woman. LL Cool J garnered the attention of the female demographic with his ability to individualize women and offer music to “one special lady” instead of women as a whole. Ladies Loved LL because he didnt mind sacrificing his tough exterior for vulnerability and adoration of his lady.
Music of the 2000’s was highly reflective of the era in which millennials were aging and technology was advancing.Although the many genres were evolving in their own rights and trends of digital pop and R&B were popularizing with the growing phenomenon of boy bands, one thing was consistent throughout and that was the close attention being paid to the female demographic. Female artists during this time were creating images that “every woman would want to be” and male artists were saying “everything a woman would want to hear”. The one genre that this new trend was most alarming in was rap music. Rap music, specifically gangsta rap, was always characterized as defiant and “outlaw-ish”. In the 2000’s that stigma was shattered as gangsta rapper such as Ja Rule, 50 Cent ,Nelly and Fabulous began to give us love songs that didn’t simply objectify women but rather respected, acknowledged and even praised the delicaly and fragility of women. Meeting this demand with hits suchs as “Dilemma”,”21 Questions”,”Into You” and “Put It On Me” many gangsta rappers were able to amass larger audiences and bigger scopes of fame, simply by illustrating vulnerability.
Many new age rappers continued the torch of balancing the hard exterior with exposure of a soft interior. Artists such as Lil Bow Wow and Soulja Boy creating songs for the younger age groups and playing on the heartthrob effect to advance their careers. Songs such as “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” and “Let Me Hold You” continued the trend of gangsta rappers showing love well up into the late 2000s. It would be the introduction of trap and mumble rap that would transition the focus of rappers back to their “hard exterior” and maintenance of their gangster images.