Image source: The Independent
We all agree music is a universal language. The hip-hop genre is in itself a richly diverse category which has outgrown its rap origins in the Bronx and taken over the world. While its rhythmic bass and sometimes explicit lyrics may often feed us with intense energy and hype, there is also a plethora of great hip-hop tunes that help us wind down and focus. Here is a list of the five best albums to listen to while studying.
GRADUATION – KANYE WEST
Is there a more fitting title to an album to listen to while studying? Kanye West’s third studio album is a masterpiece of his trademark sampling style combined with electronic and synthetic sounds. The grand atmospheric soundscape in this catalogue of great hits is perfectly balanced with personal lyrics of self-reflection and awareness. Sure, Kanye West may be a figure of controversy nowadays but there is no denying his musical genius- and this album is stamped with enough creativity for listeners to tune (yes, pun intended) into their inner genius. Recommended track: I Wonder.
THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL – LAURYN HILL
Okay, so maybe there’s a trend here with another academic related album title; but when it comes to defining what hip-hop is, TMoLH fits the description impeccably. Finding an artist as talented as Lauryn Hill may prove to be quite difficult as well. Fortunately, her vocal flair and rap skills are timeless gifts that keep on giving. Despite this being Lauryn Hill’s first and only solo album, its impact has cemented her as a hip-hop icon. From the school bell ringing in the intro to the lyrical melodies that so effortlessly flow from Ms. Hill’s lips, this album opens your mind and heart to personal and relatable themes from the perspective of a young, black, first time mother and talented soul. Seriously, if you need an excellent list of top-notch songs to ease you into a studying frenzy, then The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the album to get you right within. Recommended track: Doo Wop (That Thing).
TRILOGY – THE WEEKND
The Weeknd is an artist who went from obscurity to global superstardom in the blink of an eye. Though his more recent works may be a culmination of chart-topping new wave and pop sounds, his compilation album, Trilogy, is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. If ever there was an album to listen to for an all-night studying binge, this would be the one to get you through it. The Weeknd takes you on a seemingly endless journey of rush filled highs and trance-like lows without ever making it feel like it’s too much to bear. It will be impossible not to feel submerged in a completely alternate reality- a reality where you can feel the gears of your own psyche in motion. Recommended track: House Of Balloons/Glass Table Girls.
CIRCLES – MAC MILLER
Mac Miller is one of those artists that always flew under the radar yet unapologetically made his presence known. His sound, though more common in this day and age among late millennial and gen-z artists, is still unique and rightfully his own. Circles, Miller’s posthumous album that follows the amazing Swimming, pulls the curtain back on the artist’s struggles with anxiety, recovery, and loneliness. While the subject matter is heavy, Mac Miller’s vulnerability and familiar transparency combined with the lo-fi vibes and indie folk vocals create the perfect blend to keep this album optimistic and far from depressing. Circles is the perfect album to mellow down your mood for a quick study session. Recommended track: Good News.
BLONDE – FRANK OCEAN
Like Lauryn Hill, Frank Ocean is a one-of-a-kind artist in a lane all on his own. He’s a reminder that there is more to hip-hop (and R&B in all honesty) than the overdone boom clap of 808’s and elementary storytelling. Hip-Hop was conceived by bold artists who were not afraid to experiment with sounds and styles and Blonde is a byproduct of that melting pot. There is a calmness to the psychedelic effects of pitch shifted harmonies on this album, an ambient mood, that make you feel alone but not lonely. It provides the sense of peace and zen to study while simultaneously opening one’s mind to diverse thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and ideas. Recommended track: Seigfried.
As I stated before, music is a universal language. Like love. But love for music specifically, is something that lives forever and is experienced by every single soul, whether you’re a toddler dozing off to a lullaby or a stressed-out college undergraduate studying for finals. If you happen to find yourself being the latter, here’s hoping that your lovely taste in music favors hip-hop. And if it does, then this list will not only expose you to some awe-inspiring albums, but will also make studying a lot easier, calming, and enjoyable for you. Cheers to hip-hop and more importantly, cheers to hip-hop while furthering our education.
Hope this playlist helps you get your study on. If you need any more distractions, check out more stories at The Narrative Matters!