Another Feb. 14 is upon us, which means it’s time to create those last minute mix CDs and let the lyrics of musical geniuses confess one’s true feelings to his or her Valentine’s date.
But if “Grenade” or “The Edge Of Glory” aren’t hitting the spot this year, perhaps a new tactic should be employed: a journey to the rap world to seek the best verses spawned by love struck emcees.
Jay-Z featuring Beyonce – “ ’03 Bonnie & Clyde”
Nine years before they were proudly showing off Blue Ivy Carter to the masses, Jay-Z and Beyonce collaborated on this single for Hova’s “Blueprint 2” album. From metaphorical high-speed car rides to Beyonce’s “Sex in the City” obsession – Jay-Z covers all bases of their relationship as he raps proudly about how he’s “got my thoroughest girl wit me.”
Jay-Z’s song samples the beat from 2Pac’s “Me and My Girlfriend.” But the latter rap should best be left off romantic night playlists – unless lines like “Watch em fall screaming, automatic gunfire, exorcising all demons” seem to somehow fit the mood.
Eric B. & Rakim – “What’s On Your Mind”
For all those couples that love to recount their first meeting, this 1991 song will be the perfect addition to a Valentine’s Day mix CD. The rap duo goes into great detail about a fateful meeting with a beautiful girl on a train. There’s even an entire verse dedicated to a single telephone conversation; talk about properly chronicling the moment.
50 Cent – “21 Questions”
When looking across the table into the eyes of a Valentine’s Day date, it’s natural to feel some uncertainty. Luckily the talented lyrical wizard 50 Cent has created a blueprint of questions to pose to a suitor. The queries have extraordinary range, from the simple – “If I wrote you a love letter would you write back?” and “If I didn’t smell so good would you still hug me?” – to the real things that matter in life: “If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century, could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?”
LL Cool J – “I Need Love”
For anyone having trouble expressing themselves to their date, pop on “I Need Love” and let LL Cool J speak for you: “When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall / And in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call / Telling me I need a girl who’s as sweet as a dove / For the first time in my life, I see I need love.”
Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige – “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need”
Awkward silence on the post-date car ride? Pop on this track to get those duet juices flowing.
Inspired by Marvin Gaye’s love song “You’re All I Need To Get By,” Method Man teamed up with Mary J. Blige to create this 1995 love rap single. “Back when I was nothin, you made a brother feel like he was somethin,” raps Method Man. “That’s why I’m with you to this day, boo, no frontin / Even when the skies were gray, you would rub me on my back and say, ‘Baby it’ll be OK.’”
Lupe Fiasco – “Paris, Tokyo”
By the end of the night, a date might be seeking some form of commitment. There’s no better time to play a song that promises some international loving.
This Lupe Fiasco song was released in 2008 but has the feel of a classic 90s rap beat. “Let’s go to sleep in Paris and wake up in Toyko,” goes the chorus. “Have a dream in New Orleans, fall in love in Chicago.” Of course, Fiasco is taking all the trips solo and is just with his love in spirit (“Wherever I go, she goes”) but perhaps one’s suitor won’t notice this small detail.
Eminem – “Space Bound”
And of course, no rap love songs playlist is complete without a twisted Marshall Mathers melody. Most of Eminem’s verses center around his self-conscious nature and anger at a lover he is convinced is betraying him. But with a chorus line like “I’m a space bound rocket ship and your heart’s the moon and I’m aiming right at you” how can this song not tug at the heartstrings?
Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]