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.