When Rap Gets It Right

One of the biggest gifts my parents, and the city of Memphis, ever gave me was a eclectic love of music from all genres. Rock, Metal, Classical, Blues, Jazz, Country, Folk, Rap, Hip Hop, Gospel, Praise, Acoustic, Alternative, Grunge, and Pop all rotate on my iTunes playlist. One of the odd gifts I received as a Memphian was this rare association with several musical cultures. I grew up listening to just as much Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Jimmy Buffet as I did Jay Z, Ludacris, and The Notorious B.I.G.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 2

Ludacris performing on The Tonight Show

I have always had a love/hate relationship with rap music. I love the beats and the rhythms and can feel it in my bones, hear the angst and the groaning for more, but over time most rappers have become so commercialized and sexualized, I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to the lyrics anymore. With few exceptions, most rappers stopped telling stories and started reeling of who or what they had. (Side note: Pop country music has moved in the same direction. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between most of Luke Bryan’s lyrics and Chris Brown’s.)

As I was catching up on Tonight Show episodes for the week, I was surprised by Ludacris’ recent performance of his new single “Grass is Always Greener”. If you have ever listened to Ludacris, you know he is usually referring to grass that doesn’t grow in your front yard, unless you live in Oregon or Colorado. This song is different from his old hits. It isn’t about booties, giant rolled “recreational cigarettes”, or clubbing. Ludacris basically tells his life story and ends every chorus reminding us of the old adage that “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

I especially love the following lyrics:

When you down and people give you the runaround
But feels great to know who really gives a shit
You cut the grass and the snakes will show
And know your neighbor’s fertilizer is fake (Don’t let it fool ya!)
We always searching what we never had
Always ignoring what’s in front of our face
We’ve been conditioned to think
The Grass is Always Greener

I am so incredibly guilty of being jealous of what everyone around me has. Whether it’s a husband, a family, a house, a working car, a higher paycheck, more stability, or vacation time, I am constantly reminded that most of the things I spend my time sweating over are food for someone else’s fantasy. I have what others want, others have what I want, and few of us are happy with where we are.

As we move out of the season of Lent and look towards the celebration of Easter, I am reminded how many times I get it wrong before I remember to be grateful and then, usually after just a moment of thankfulness, I am right back to wanting what I don’t have. My prayer for this Easter season is that I reflect on the lyrics of Ludacris, no matter how ludicrous that sounds, and be grateful for where I have been, where I am now, and not live in constant anxiety and anticipation for wherever I am going.

Thanks, Luda.

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