Rap Songs for Home

As the coronavirus epidemic continues to roil the globe, this playlist of rap songs is assembled the meaning of the word "home."

As the coronavirus epidemic continues to roil the globe, the meaning of home has taken on a new urgency. It’s not only a place of location, but a place of being. It can refer to the house that we call our main address, the city that we claim as our birthplace and/or birthright; or something more abstract, like a set of memories that we identify as our birthmark. Home can feel like a literal and figurative prison, something much of the world increasingly recognizes as it chafes under social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home edicts, and watches prisoners suffer from high infection rates. It can also be a luxury. Some don’t have a place to call home at all.

This playlist assembled around a word is full of such variations on a theme. Much of it is simply wordplay: what rap songs have the word “home” in it? There are “home” songs about repping your city (Kurupt’s “Welcome Home”) and a straight-up booty call (Foxy Brown’s “Get Me Home”). There’s a haunting number about a treasured childhood (Talib Kweli and Madlib’s “Happy Home”) and an equally haunting tune about how predatory adults can rob a boy of his childhood (Common’s “Memories of Home”). YBN Cordae imagines “Way Back Home” as a symbol of innocence gone, much as Kanye West’s “Homecoming” admits that his ambitions have grown beyond his hometown. For all of these artists, home is anywhere you hang your head — physically and mentally.

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