Music is a medium commonly used as an instrument to motivate individuals through different facets of life. In 2017, hip-hop became the most streamed genre in the United States of America. While hip-hop may not often be referenced as tantamount with higher education, many artists have referenced the academe within their works.
Whether you are analyzing Ye’s multiplatinum and highly regarded debut album “College Dropout” or J. Cole’s common references to his days as a college student at St. John’s University where he graduated magna cum laude, higher education has found its way into the lyrical content of the genre. Beyond these occurrences, many hip-hop artists have created the soundtracks that inspire and motivate young adults as they navigate through a strenuous semester.
Here are 5 hip-hop quotes to inspire students at academic institutions as they proceed into finals week.
1. Nipsey Hussle (“Racks In The Middle”, 2019)
“Double check the details. Gotta cross my T's and dot my I's or I can't sleep well.”
One major key to success in college is thoroughly reviewing and critiquing your work before a professor can. As Hussle emphasizes, it’s a lot easier to relax knowing that you have thoroughly assessed your work prior to submission.
2. Wale (“Ambition”, 2011)
“Move with aggression, use my mind as a weapon. Cause chances are never given, they’re tooken like interceptions”
Being pro-active in college can take a level of aggression and fortitude. There is no luck when it comes to academic success. It’s crucial to be intentional about your future.
3. Big Sean (“Sacrifices”, 2017)
“The human race is all about pacing.
Look at all the ones I outlasted.
I'm the one at the end like I count backwards.
Never satisfied, details classified.
'Til the afterlife, make a sacrifice.”
Avoiding burnout while still executing at a high level requires an intentional level of pacing. While some cramming is common, working at a diligent pace the entire semester is a much more effective tactic. This tactic requires a level of sacrifice though, as Big Sean details. Sacrificing free time, parties, and social interactions at time to accomplishment goals. Many of your peers will not have this mindset, but that can’t deter you from the goal at hand.
4. Jay Z (“So Ambitious”, 2009)
“I'm different, I can't base what I'm gonna be off of what everybody isn't.”
First generation college students are tasked with the tumultuous role of paving their own road. This road is often one without guidance or support. On this road it is important to not limit yourselves based on what your peers, family, friends are doing. Retaining a level of tunnel vision is a necessity for reaching academic success.
5. Ye ("Last Call”, 2004)
“I ain't play the hand I was dealt, I changed my cards.
I prayed to the skies and I changed my stars.”
As the semester ends, it is essential to remind students that their destiny is in their own hands. Faculty, administration, peer mentors, and campus resources are tools for their ultimate ascension from student to graduate, and from graduate to thriving professional.
Dr. Jeremy C. McCool is an assistant professor of digital and global media at West Chester University. His research and writing revolve around socially conscious music, hip-hop, technology, and media representation.
Na’eem Allen-Stills is an incoming doctoral student in the University of Maryland’s Higher Education, Student Affairs and International Education Policy program. His research revolves around Black mentorship.