On the 13th February 2009, Aubrey Graham better known as Drake dropped his first official project ‘So far gone’. It went on to change the game in terms of how it pushed introspective hip hop music to the forefront. This also placed him at the pinnacle of what was going to be a revolution in the music industry. In the spirit of that moment, I decided to compile a list of 3 introspective hip hop projects. When I talk about introspective I don’t mean socially conscious or activist music. I am talking about something a bit more personal than that. I’m talking about blurring the line between what’s private and what’s not while peeling back one’s mask to reveal their vulnerabilities from different vantage points. These projects are some of the trailblazers in regards to that as they successfully pushed an introspective theme within a whole album.
1. Me Against The World- 2Pac
It is arguably 2Pac’s most introspective album in a largely self-reflective catalogue. This song was written with a prison sentence looming and constant run-ins with the police. 2Pac might not have been the first hip hop artist to release introspective music but he was the first artist to successfully chart a very personal single at a time when hip hop and being hardcore were synonymous. This he did when one of the most memorable tracks from the album ‘Dear Mama’ went 2x platinum on top of spending several weeks on the chart. The song talked about his personal struggles dealing with both his imperfections and those of his mother whilst still appreciating her. This opened the door for rappers to be introspective and reveal not so flattering details about their personal lives.
2. 808s and Heartbreak- Kanye West
I had a tough time choosing between this and ‘Man on the Moon’ by Kid Cudi. They are both excellent projects which are stripped down and heavily influenced by Kid Cudi. This project changed the game completely in terms of various things such as production and subject matters. At this time no hip hop artist was talking about matters of mental health and heartbreak at a deep level. The formidable duo of Kanye and Kid Cudi were able to express this in such a complete way. This ended up paving the way for artists like Drake, Tyler the Creator and XXXTentacion among many others.
3. Take Care- Drake
This is the most commercially successful album on the list. In a world where being a player and conquering multiple women made one popular, Drake came in and shook the game by pushing the ‘good guy narrative’ while empowering women. This was done while exposing his insecurities making men consider him too soft and whiny while endearing him to women who wished they would find a guy as sensitive as him. This project also pushed the envelope for rappers being able to dabble in both singing and rapping leading to artists like Russ being created and raising a whole new generation of artists.