In the age of internet streaming services and Hot 100 radio stations, the rap experience is more tailored than ever.
When you go to Spotify to look for “RapCaviar” or curated playlists on Apple Music, you’re not going to hear a catalog of deep cuts from the newest Drake or Kanye West album. No, you'll hear the hits like “Knife Talk” and “Off the Grid” and all the songs that remind you why those artists are so beloved (and rich).
But that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to remind you of the mistakes.
Talent comes with misgivings, and creativity is not perfect. Even the greatest rappers of our age can make bad, lazy, uninteresting songs, and remembering those songs are important. Philosopher George Santayana once wrote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
And there are definitely some songs you’d never want on repeat.
For example, Drake’s 2018 album “Scorpion” was met with decent critical reviews and massive commercial success. The record was loaded with hits, like the aforementioned “Nonstop,” the cheekily braggadocious “God’s Plan” and the sugar-sweet “In My Feelings.” But — being a monstrous hour and a half long — the album also had lots of garbage.
Nowhere is this more inexcusable than “Ratchet Happy Birthday,” where Drake tries but miserably fails to sound facetious at all. Instead, he recycles themes of reminiscing on an old girlfriend, combined with repetitions that it is, indeed, this girl’s “f*****g birthday.”
I can’t ever forget this song, lest he ever makes another one. And now, thanks to this playlist, neither will you.
West also has his own collection of lowlights throughout his career, a list that grew quite a bit longer after he began endorsing a warped version of Christianity and wore MAGA hats.
In terms of pure musicality, “Lift Yourself” may be the worst offender of his catalog, if for no other reason than Ye mixing a repetitive '80s sample with his now-legendary “poopy di scoop/scoop diddy whoop, whoop di scoop di poop” bars.
Some will try and defend the artistic merits of this song, but face it — you don’t want another one of these, no matter how avant-garde your tastes may be.
This list, however, does have a couple of caveats, the first of which being that some artists’ low points just aren’t as low as those of other artists.
Kendrick Lamar is my favorite rapper of all time, so finding a way to include him here involved no small amount of deliberation. In the end, I went with “LOVE.” from his most recent album, “DAMN.” — a song that features Lamar feebly trying to sing-song his way through some of the weakest bars of his career.
Granted, it’s not a terrible song, but I can’t really think of anything worse. He’s just that good.
Contrast that with Logic and his song, “Limitless,” where he raps about how much money he made from the song “1-800-273-8255,” a song about depression and suicide prevention. When you’ve begun bragging about making money off of your fans’ depression, you’ve reached a special low point, and so here he is.
A second caveat is that some songs are here not because they’re entirely bad, but because they have truly awful lyrics.
There’s J. Cole’s 2020 track “Snow on Tha Bluff,” which is a response to criticisms from female rapper Noname. In it, Cole, a rapper known for pontificating his beliefs about fame and celebrity, fully admits that he is an ignorant fraud who doesn’t deserve to be seen as a leader.
Instead, he puts the onus of leadership and education about systemic racism on Noname, even going so far as to compare himself to a slave who needs enlightenment. This was a very ugly look from a rapper who absolutely should have known better.
On a lighter note, Big Sean’s “Go Legend” is pretty inoffensive if you don’t pay attention, but his lyrics on the song truly cement his status as the "King of Corniness": “the way I piece this s**t together, man, it’s puzzling (I go hard)/I do this for the dawgs and nowadays, we husky.” Ugh.
While different songs might be on this list for different reasons, one thing is for sure — we cannot ever forget them, lest the artist thinks it's okay to release another.
Nobody wants another rendition of Kanye scooping and pooping.
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