Lyrical Dissonance: Hip Hop

"People get held back by the voice inside 'em, Yo! The voice said A voice to speak inside you! Rejoice and cordially invite evil, greed, and lies too. Yeah! Confusing days, he moved in ways he soon became a kuni BOOM BOOM BOOM. And knock on his door, his soul is no more. And knock on his door, his soul is no more..."

Yes, believe it or not, there are examples of Lyrical Dissonance that can be found in Hip-Hop. As a matter of fact, it's one of the reasons why so many people can listen to it without even realizing the song is possibly about drugs, sex, violence and other mature themes.


  • Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five classic "The Message" has a very upbeat tune and lyrics like this:
    It was plain to see that your life was lost
    You was cold and your body swung back and forth
    But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
    Of how you lived so fast and died so young
    • The song itself talks about how horrendous New York and the ghetto is.
  • K'naan's most famous song may be "Wavin' Flag", the song you probably heard during the World Cup in 2010. The actual version still sounds cheerful, but can also be extremely sad when you realize what it's about.
    • K'naan was born in Africa. The majority of his songs, combined with his voice, sound extremely jubilant and bright, but the lyrics themselves are extremely sad at time.
    • He combines understatement and cheerfulness to emphasize the sad fact that Africa is a suffering continent and no one seems to care.
  • Lupe Fiasco creates songs that are darker than most, but he does have the occasional bright beat combined with Anvilicious lyrics.
  • How many Lil Wayne songs have you listened to? Go back and relisten.
  • Eminem has constantly had to answer to opposition who criticize him for his lyrics because many kids listen to him. His comedic voice in some of his earlier raps did not exactly help his case, even though he constantly said that his music WAS NOT for kids (even during the songs).
  • Where Is The Love? by Black Eyed Peas. But not as much as others.
  • "Fuck It All" by Childish Gambino may seem catchy and upbeat at first. However, in the song, he discusses his sadness and even brings up suicide.
  • The French rap group Sniper has a song called "Nique le système" (Fuck the system) that discusses the Crapsack World of the poor neighborhoods and political atmosphere the artists grew up in, but the beat is a rather pretty violin loop and the chorus has a catchy melody that contrasts with the violence of the lyrics. Of course, if you speak French it's rather hard to ignore the title and lines like "he who sows hate will reap fire, because whether you burn them or throwing in the Seine, our young people have rage in their veins."
  • "What's Up, Fatlip?" by... Fatlip has a happy, positive-sounding beat with laugh tracks in the background. Then you get to the lyrics...
    Feelin' downtrodden, fresh kid turned rotten
    I can't believe how naive that I've gotten
    Over the years seems like I'm gettin' dumber
    Reminiscing to a time when I was younger with a hunger
    Full a dreams, determination, self-esteem
    But now it seems they hesitate to be on my team
    You know the routine, when you winnin' and grinnin'
    All up in your face, like they was which you from the beginnin'
    But on the flipside, when you washed up like a riptide
    Fools clown 'bout how you slipped and let shit slide
    Who am I kiddin', who am I foolin' when they be like,
    "What's up, Fatlip?"
    And I say "coolin'"?
  • "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston is a cheerful, nostalgic ballad about a dying romance.
  • When I Was a Youngster by Rizzle Kicks is a happy, upbeat tune all about the author's disappointment at his failure to fulfill any of his childhood dreams due to his sense of ambition being eroded by his drinking.
  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's famous song "1st of tha Month", because of it's chorus and somewhat somber beat, seems as if it's about the sadness of having to be on welfare and rejoicing when you get the check that allows you to survive. The music video seems to reinforce this view. In reality, the song is about how drug dealers make the most money on the first of the month because that's when crack addicts get their welfare checks, and how dealers spend said money on partying and living it up.