Every region is “known” for a particular sound or style. I’m not putting everybody in a box or perpetuating stereotypes, just stating a fact. East Coast is known for their lyricism and the West coast for their Gangster shit. I will be the first, even as a proud southerner, to admit the south is not synonymous with thought-provoking lyrics. I dont know why, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think “southern rap” is “Back That Ass Up”. That doesn’t mean we dont have “thinkers” and storytellers down here. Often times it just means if a lesson is being told in the South, it is told against the backdrop of a dope ass bassline. Here are a few of my all time favorites in no particular order.
#1 “I Seen a Man Die” Scarface
Taken on a journey of a man during his release from prison, getting caught up again and ending with death full of regrets. Against a hard beat and laced with a catchy hook, Scarface articulates what happens to so many folks; big dreams and falling back into the same old trap.
Imagine life at it’s full peak
Then imagine lying dead in the arms of your enemy
Imagine peace on this earth when there’s no grief
Imagine grief on this earth when there’s no peace
Cuz everybody’s got a different way of endin’ it
And when your number comes for service then they send it in
Now your time has arrived for the final touch
I see the fear in your eyes and hear your final breath
How much longeer will it be til it’s all done?
Total darkness and ease be in all one
I watch him die and when he dies let us celebrate
You took his life, but your memory he’ll never take
You’ll be headed to another place
And the life you used to live will reflect in your mother’s face
#2 “Cell Therapy” Goodie Mob
“Who’s that peeking in my window POW, nobody now”
Wow. So much knowledge dropped in this song…and I mean some heavy shit! Yet anytime a DJ drops this in the club…partygoers get the f**k down to it and sing along to the chorus. This was also back in the good ole days when Cee Lo Green wore wife beaters and chains instead of…well anything he wears these days is generally no bueno.
#3 “Ms. Jackson” Outkast
“I’m sorry Ms. Jackson I am for reaaaaaaaaal. Never meant to make your daughter cry, I apologize a trillion times”
This track was addressing the difficulties of a couples seperation on child-rearing and the animosity that develops between the woman’s mother and the child’s father. Speaking for Andre 3000, this song literally went out to his baby mama’s mama, Ms Badu’s mom. Big Boi was just speaking on the subject in general. Again, super deep and real ass message with a delivery you can shake your ass too! Gotta love Outkast; have you rappn’ along to baby mama drama!
#4 “Secrets of the Hidden Temple” Black Monks
This is probably one that not too many people are familiar with and NEED TO BE! These cats were out of Houston and one of my personal favorites. Anytime I need to re-set my mind, I listen to this track. This is my hip-hop “Art of War”. Not to mention, it hits hard with a system.
“You’re never too clever to be outsmarted by the next fu**ing fellow”
#5 “One Day” UGK
Pretty sure this is every southerners #1 “reflection” track. Telling stories of the street life and putting things in perspective, Bun B and Pimp C (RIP) put out the truth in a lyrically smooth delivery with one of the top beats in Southern hip-hop history. Bob your head and possibly shed a tear at the same time. UGK is, was and will always be Southern Rap royalty. RIP Pimp C…you are deeply missed.
“Man if you got kids show em you love em cause God just might call em home/Cuz one day you here but baby the next day you gone”