Valentine’s Day is the season of romance, flowers, and chocolates. It’s also the season of playlists that celebrate love. For generations, love songs have been characterized by smooth harmonies and silky melodies. But like everything else it touched; Hip Hop culture shifted this reality.
The rap music element of Hip Hop culture is often characterized by gritty lyrics that depict the harsh realities of life, but many rappers have also shared the softer side of life through songs inspired by love. Released in 1987, LL Cool J’s “I Need Love,” is recognized as the first commercially successful rap ballad, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also became one of the first rap songs to gain mainstream popularity in the UK, reaching #8 on the UK Singles Chart.
During this season of love, as Upscale continues to observe 50 years of Hip Hop Culture our Hip Hop Contributor Dr. Dia curated a Valentine’s Day Rap Playlist. This playlist covers five decades of rap and combines the sweet and spicy songs rappers have delivered on love and love making.
Like LL Cool J said during the Hip Hop 50 Grammy Tribute introduction, we could not include everybody. This playlist is a snapshot of the hundreds of love inspired rap songs released through the decades. So, we want to hear from you. What songs would you add to this playlist? Leave it in the comments.
I Need Love by LL Cool J (1987)
Take Care by Drake ft. Rihanna (2012)
Part II by Jay Z ft. Beyonce’ (2013)
Astronaut Chick by Future (2012)
Say Sum by The Migos (2016)
Baby by Fabolous ft. Mike Shorey (2004)
Lotus Flower Bomb by Wale ft. Miguel (2011)
What’s it Gonna Be by Busta Rhymes ft. Janet Jackson (1998)
Like You by Bow Wow ft. Ciara (2005)
Wait 4 U by Future ft. Drake and Tems (2022)
Prototype by OutKast (2003)
Acquired Taste by Jeff & Fess ft. Eric Roberson (2016)
Please Me by Cardi B ft. Bruno Mars (2019)
Lollipop by Lil Wayne ft. Static Major (2008)
Fireworks by Drake ft. Alicia Keyes (2010)
See You Again by Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis (2017)
The Sweetest Thing by Refuge Camp All-Stars ft. Lauryn Hill