The most self-obsessed rappers, according to their own lyrics

Originally published at:

Also interesting to note that the leaders in self-absorption are all recent generation rappers.
I sure miss the 80s sometimes.

1 Like

He’s only analyzing current rappers, though. He’s also not comparing to other genres of music, either. I bet across the board you see a higher level of individualization and self-references, because that’s become our cultural expectation of pop music. That’s part of the influence of capitalism on the production of music. Being a music star requires some level of self-absorption I’d argue. I don’t think modern rappers are unique in that.


You’re right. There have been some very self-referencing rappers in the past. LL Cool J, Tone-Loc, Vanilla Ice, etc.


Some where Kapt’n K is reading this, taking a drag off a cigarette and whispering “amateurs”.


Not all self-referential rap is self-obsession:


Fair point, but Akala is more underground, not commercial (,ie, usually bullshit) mainstream.

Excellent points, to which I’d add that rapping basically started out as bragging/dissing contests between different crews at house parties in the Bronx, so self referential lyrics have been around since the birth of Hip Hop.

Braggadocio is one of the core tenets of being able to rhyme, but it’s not the only one, but since capitalism entered the picture, it’s often the aspect that’s most amplified these days.


I know, right? And those kids need to get off my lawn, too.


I’m disappointed he didn’t analyze Snoop Dogg


Before reading the source, I assumed the point would be more name-dropping for the sake of self-obsession, not simply using the pronoun “I.” This doesn’t seem all that remarkable, that a person telling a story in the first person would reference themself…


"Nicki Minaj woman of the 21st century, uses “I’m like” often in speech and lyrics

Film at 11"


Exactly. It goes to the root of the genre. I don’t think the study is particularly fair, or rather, I question why it was undertaken in the first place when they knew how the results would come out.

Based on their blog, they seem to be extensively interested in rap and hip-hop, so… I guess this was just an out-of-curiosity analysis.


Hey that got some P(uppy)-Funk

“…But first, ‘The Most Self-Obsessed Authors of the 20th Century,’ where we’ll review Ayn Rand’s Anthem and its exclusive use of plural pronouns! Stay tuned for the next episode!”

1 Like

Here we go.


Heads up, the payoff is at the end.


There’s plenty of modern talented rappers. You just won’t hear them played on Clear Channel.


At the same time I notice a lot of performers (perhaps especially rappers) seem to be well aware of that and actually explore the duality of their performance persona and real life. One of my favourite lyrics of all time, from Jay Z - Moment of Clarity:

If skills sold truth be told
I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense (But I did five Mil)
I ain’t been rhyming like Common since

Jay Z’s telling us directly that he wishes he could be more intellectual but he intentionally dumbs down his work because he knows that’s how he’ll make money.

I also saw Chance the Rapper on Colbert recently talking about getting into acting and saying that he thought that rappers made an easier transition to acting because all rappers were great liars.

I haven’t listened to Nicki Minaj much, though I like a few of her songs that I’ve heard. Based on her lyrics and the little I’ve seen of her in interviews, I’d have a hard time believing she isn’t fully conscious of how often she refers to herself.

And just because people are rapping about themselves doesn’t mean they aren’t great.

I don’t pay attention to new music (other than children’s movie sound tracks) but some of my favourite lyrics I’ve heard recently are “about the rapper”. Like I love this rhyme (it’s more about the delivery, listen to the track) from Jidenna - Long Live the Chief:

Now they say, “Jidenna why you dressing so classic?” / I don’t want my best dressed day in a casket

I love rap disses, which very often compare the rapper to the person being dissed. Like Aesop Rock - Big Bang (to be fair not really that recent):

I rock ready, aim, fire while y’all rock ready, fire, aim
Then blame the stationary target when the prey escapes the frame

And, of course, how can you make fun of yourself without talking about yourself. Like Das Racist - Who’s That? Brooown!:

I swear I sell like West sell
Sell like sex sell
Smell like sex smell

(Das Racist - Who’s that? Brooown!)