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Why Materialism in Rap is Great

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Rap gets a negative rep for being materialistic, as though that's something that makes it less deep. I happen to think that the materialism in rap, if done right, can be the greatest thing in all of music. Future, Young Thug, Kodak Black, The Migos, Gunna, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty & Luh Tyler are some of my favourite artists. I could write a dissertation on each of these influential and innovative artists but I’m talking about an entire genre for the moment. Rap is varied and there’s various subgenres from conscious rap to gangster rap, to drill, but for me personally, the more materialistic the rapper, the better. The older I get, the more I genuinely mean that. Atlanta rappers, the legendary 2016 xxl freshman class, Playboi Carti, Destroy Lonely, artists like Rick Ross, they just get it.

I love artists like J Cole & Kendrick Lamar, but even they know there’s a place for an exorbitant amount of saucing. It’s the same reason why Ric Flair is one of the greatest gimmicks of all time. There’s a place in my soul that is Future, in a very real way, I can’t tell you why I feel 712PM on that level, I just do.

My mundane bus ride through the city turns into a maybach situation where I’m a kingpin walking around with cocaine money. I feel like the flyest supervillain that got away with it. Andre 3000 said Future makes the most inspirational negative music of all time and I think that’s one of the truest statements about this genre. I don’t agree with everything Kodak Black says in Hit Bout It but I also replay his verse 1000 times a day, it gives me energy and inspiration to do work in my life.

These artists have figured out how to incorporate high levels of musicality in flows, melodies, and pockets, epic production, with the most exorbitant & base portrayals of wealth where you can’t help but root for the guy, it's egregious. Nobody lives like Future, but I bet Future lives like Future. And every artist I mentioned can get really poetic and sincere but I think all of the artists I have named shine the most when they’re just flexing in its truest sense, talking shit about everything they have on and just did.

“ Money real long, big as King Kong when you make the trap go jump

Yellow wrist stones, canary yellow stones, I'm puttin' on that stuff

Diggin' in her back, pull out my money, make a bitch bust a nut

Came out the bando just to buy diapers, had to hit me a lick

I bought the Tahoe from the trap money, haven't even seen a brick

Cocaine by the kilo, these days put it right on my wrist

You can still see the chain lit up sittin' behind five percent

Every time I re-up, they gotta advance at least twenty M

I been gettin' richer and richer my whole career

Took the dope money, went and record a mixtape, it's rappers way out

Sittin' on a bail totin' a big K, ain't even got a couch

To Australia, I'm familiar, spent two million on a jet

In that Dualie doin' the dash, I let lil' dawg he hold a TEC

I got mollies with the crystals but I been back doin' X

Got a Rolex on my wrist, this bitch cost 'bout a Corvette

Give these niggas a couple bands and hit your face and hit your chest

I was rollin' off the pills, I should've never fucked the bitch

I got hoes, these niggas married, I don't let 'em go, they come through

I got my fentanyl in my diamonds, I spend a nine on a pair of shoes

I don't even care who these niggas shot at, ain't nan' of 'em got merked

I got some real killers, they'll kill a nigga, then go and shoot up the hearse

You think a nigga like me give a fuck about a nigga shootin' up the church?

I gotta take this shit up with God 'cause I'm a god on the earth

I got this motherfuckin' new Benz, I ain't even drove it since it came out

Couple of bad bitches, they twins, walkin' naked through my house

Cook good dope up in the kitchen, I could do that top shelf

Bitches still claimin' me, I ain't fucked over a year

I know Mark Fisher can probably come up with a whole reason why that's bad for society, and he’d probably be right, but man, that’s the realest shit I’ve ever heard. Future’s reference points tell you about his journey, the price he used to pay for a kilo of cocaine, these days he spends the same amount on jewelry for his wrist. He’s telling you theirs consequences to his actions, he’s not proud of all his decisions, he wished he never fucked that bitch, but that’s what he has to accept in the life he chose, the realities of being Future, of taking the dope money, recording a mixtape, making it out with your talent, and living life as this rockstar, taking drugs and traveling the globe, and now his talent makes the trap go jump, giving inspiration to other people trying to “make it out” which is basically everyone in the world in one way or another. He didn’t even have a couch now he’s familiar to australia, spending 2 million on a jet with bad bitches walking naked through his house, achieving the proverbial American Dream. These are some of the true great American stories that only an outlet like rap can give us but it's not all sweet. Future carries weapons now because people want what he has now, the lyrics detail the paranoia of this reality where people in his position die everyday.

The diamonds, the gold, the coats, the general amount of flexing that is part of hip hop culture has created its own subgenre & renewed enthusiasm & renaissance in fashion, jewelry, film, & design. People like Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Tyler The Creator & Cam’ron are style and design legends, and a lot of that stems from the need to rap about the newest thing that you have on, as Ye said “And I spend 400 bucks on this, just to be like nigga you ain’t up on this” Ye introduced legendary jewelry designs like the iconic Takashi Murakami jesus piece. Rappers have this role of cultural tastemakers and if they do it well enough it can be one of the most inspirational things in the world.

Future’s whistles & verse on Pardon me are inspirational as capitalistic and elitist as they may come across to the untrained eye. The video directed by Zhamak Fullad has Lil Yachty & Future flexing, dancing, gambling, stripper poles, money falling from the sky, doing donuts in expensive cars, and fabrics, the edits, done by Henry McGowan, are quick, quite like their lifestyle. The visuals are cinematic but the real story is unfolding in the relationship between the audience and the artist. There’s a real relationship when you see someone actually “make it” that allows the level of flexing that certain artists do appear aspirational. We all remember when Future wasn’t the biggest artist in the world, or when Lil Yachty was on the XXL freshman class, and above that there’s the meta narrative of being black in America and the world, as Rick Ross said “when your people labeled poor that motivated me more”

I look at Futures rise and it inspires me, and even though I can’t relate to most of what he’s actually saying, his music motivates me through my mundane activities. Future reminds me that I have been acting “poor” that poor is a mentality, and I could aspire for a Future quality of life. There is something to copping the rarest pieces, looking for pieces of clothing, jewelry or design that interest you, seeking out specific foods & drinks that you haven’t tried, there’s something about materialism that can be extremely tasteful when done right and that’s the luxurious energy that Future’s music gives me in a way not many artists are capable of replicating.

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