Building a Hip-Hop Love Story and Socially Acceptable Urban Identity

As the movement gained support and recognition worldwide, love became an increasingly common theme in hip-hop music and poetry. However, the taboo still exists. Even today, hip-hop artists and poets present their love stories in a way that maintains a socially acceptable identity. Hip-hop stories about love are still recognized as real and true only if they satisfy the masculine ideology the movement is taking root in.

The purpose of this study is to analyze hip-hop love stories and how artists express these love stories to build a socially acceptable identity. I believe that personal stories are closely related to the construction of identity. It is through personal stories that people can tell life-changing events, realize socially acceptable behaviors, and create personal identities.

I researched and researched several hip-hop love songs and analyzed the lyrics into text and poetry. In my research, I discovered five common narrative forms that hip-hop poets use to tell their love stories: contrast, perception, spiritual, dialogue, and metaphor. These five narrative forms are used not only to correctly present the story, but also to maintain a positive perception in a society where these sensitivities may be considered weak or rude. I plan to showcase each of these narrative forms and show how poets use them to tell their love stories while establishing an acceptable identity.

<b> Contrasting narrative </ b>
One of the most common forms of hip-hop love stories is a contrasting narrative. Many artists use hip-hop music and poetry to tell negative stories surrounding urban environments. Contrasting narratives allow poets to express their love stories in contrast to these negativity, while building an acceptable identity. Because its negativity is real and understood in urban communities.

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A great introductory example to a contrasting narrative is the following passage from Method Man’s “All I Need”:

<i> When I was nothing
You made your brother feel he was something.
So, with you until today, boo no frontin’
Even when the sky is gray
Rub it on my back and say “Baby it’ll be alright”</i>

In this song, the poet uses a contrasting narrative to express his love for the person who stood by him ‘when the sky was gray’. He speaks of his concern for his own love as someone who has helped him get through difficult times, contrasting positively with his negative environment.

Another example of a contrasting love story can be seen in this passage from Guru’s “All I Said.”

<i>This world is crazy, she gotta help me get sane
She helped the pain, thought it helped me keep</i>

In this song, Guru uses a contrasting narrative to share his views on what love is. He admits that his “world is crazy” and that his love interest is the only one who can stand it.

In “She Tried,” Bubba Sparxx uses a contrasting narrative to tell a story that actually recounts his love for him when he’s having trouble with the law.

<i> Wonderful country girl, just as a gift
She must have been my queen, virgin
But I never ask and never say
But Betty had cash whenever I went to jail</i>

This song better demonstrates the use of a contrasting narrative to express love. The poet confesses that he spent a lot of time in prison, but Betty was always there to rescue him, again a positive contrast to his troubles.
<b> Perceptual narrative </ b>
Another common narrative form of hip-hop love stories is perceptual narrative. Like contrasting narratives, perceptual narratives are based on the negativity surrounding the poet’s life. But instead of presenting this love in contrast to its negativity, the poet uses this story to explain how that love has changed his previously negative perceptions. This narrative form also allows the poet to build a socially acceptable identity due to recognition.

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