Hip-hop artists do not always create songs that are riddled with profanity, sexual innuendos, and violence. In fact all over the world, hip-hop artists return to the roots of self-expression and produce ballads filled to the brim with emotion.
Two artists from different corners of the world: J.Cole and Shane Eagle. These two have used the platform of hip-hop to express their life stories. The portrayal of life’s hardships is most prevalent in Shane Eagle’s “Cutting Corners” and J.Cole’s “Apparently”. Though Eagle is South African and Cole is American, the stories that they tell almost mirror each other.
In “Cutting Corners”, Shane Eagle speaks about the challenges he faced throughout his life over a light and airy piano loop. He gives the listener the first glimpse into his past by saying: “When you pack your gun don’t forget to pack your bible too/Coz I remember times when I was suicidal too”. This powerful line matches the tone of the entire song. Throughout, the listener is able to gather that Eagle uses his craft, rapping, to release the pain of his past. He closes the song by saying: “I pray to God I’m blessed and that my art stills pays…”
J.Cole coincides with the tone of Shane Eagle’s track by beginning the song with none other than a piano loop. This loop, though minuscule to many, sets the tone of the song. It adorns the song with a light beat in order for the listener to really grasp what Cole is saying. The first moment that he expresses his hardship is when he says, “Think back to Forest Hills, no perfect home/But the only thing like home I’ve ever known/Until they snatched it from my mama/ And foreclosed her on the loan/I’m so sorry that I left you there to deal with that alone”. Here it is evident that Cole is addressing his past as well as the pain and regret that came with not being around for his mother.
Hip-hop is a form of self-expression. It is not just mindless noise or talk about violence and sex through profane language. J.Cole and Shane Eagle, though they reign from two different countries, are living examples that hip-hop comes in different forms and is a global way of expression.