Good Rap With Minimal Swears
August 15, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

After perusing the current Kendrick Lamar thread, in which people are squabbling about whether or not "bitch, motherfucker" is the essence of rap, it seems worth it to ask for some recommendations of good rap music with no swears.

Yup! I'm looking for some good, old fashioned verbal dexterity that also happens to be pretty darn clean, the sort of stuff I could put on in front of my mother and not feel embarrassed. While I enjoyed the Run The Jewels mixtape and Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city, they wouldn't really qualify here. "You A Stupid Hoe" is right out. Acid Rap is there on some tracks, but not for the entire album. Most of the work by A Tribe Called Quest and older stuff by De La Soul probably would. However, I'd sooner listen to some material that's a little more recent and -ideally- a little more trendy. (I have minimal sense of the hip-hop mainstream.)
posted by Going To Maine to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aesop Rock uses very little foul language.
posted by bensherman at 12:17 PM on August 15, 2013


You might like some of Jurassic 5's stuff. I really appreciate their song "Thin Line."
posted by shortyJBot at 12:17 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was thinking Michael Franti/Spearhead, but there are some occasional swears. Still, it's good stuff.
posted by parilous at 12:19 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of the Doomtree stuff is really good. If you can abide swearing in other languages, let me roll out the same recommendations I make in every rap thread: Ana Tijoux, Calle 13, La Mala Rodriguez.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:20 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Will Smith's 'Willenium' is right up your alley, Going to Maine.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Folks are probably going to roll their eyes at me, but I really loved The Heist and it's not too sweary (to my memory at least). Yeah, I bought it after hearing Thrift Shop and Same Love, but Wing$, 10000 Hours, and Jimmy lovine are my favorites.

ETA: Just checked the lyrics and there are a few 'fucks' in there, but there's not a lot of fucking bitches and such.
posted by maryr at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2013


Can we enable the image tag in here so I can post a mural-sized picture of Rakim?
posted by cashman at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Run DMC aren't thugs and they don't use drugs.
posted by phunniemee at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Will Smith's 'Willenium' is right up your alley, Going to Maine.

I feel supremely uncool.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Seconding Doomtree, particularly Dessa. I really like P.O.S., but he's not particularly clean. Same with Brother Ali. Atmosphere is fairly clean.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Run DMC aren't thugs and they don't use drugs.

Not untrue, but ancient. I could go out and buy Q-Tip's most recent album as well...
posted by Going To Maine at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2013


Folks are probably going to roll their eyes at me, but I really loved The Heist and it's not too sweary (to my memory at least). Yeah, I bought it after hearing Thrift Shop and Same Love, but Wing$, 10000 Hours, and Jimmy lovine are my favorites.

ETA: Just checked the lyrics and there are a few 'fucks' in there, but there's not a lot of fucking bitches and such.


I personally have more issues with "bitch", so that's probably fine.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:30 PM on August 15, 2013


This is kinda out there but try Roots Manuva's album Awfully Deep. Really liked that lyrically and musically.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:33 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


bensherman mentioned Aesop Rock, he just did an album with Kimya Dawson. It's a mix of both their styles, so not entirely rap/hip hop, but it might fit the bill. sample. Fairly minimal on the bad language, though you might keep "Tits up" off the playlist for mom.
posted by mrgoat at 12:40 PM on August 15, 2013


This is a bit older, but The Streets' A Grand Don't Come for Free is an interesting rap album (in that it's a continous narrative) and has minimal (but some) swearing.
posted by selfnoise at 12:42 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Folks are probably going to roll their eyes at me, but I really loved The Heist and it's not too sweary (to my memory at least). Yeah, I bought it after hearing Thrift Shop and Same Love, but Wing$, 10000 Hours, and Jimmy lovine are my favorites.

ETA: Just checked the lyrics and there are a few 'fucks' in there, but there's not a lot of fucking bitches and such.


Yeah, no. Much swearing, at least enough that my four year old's favorite word is "fucking". Although the message is almost uniformly positive, which is why my four year old gets to listen to it.

Also, it is hysterical to hear a 4 year say "If I'd been in it for the money, I'da been a fucking lawyer."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:59 PM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, the most recent album is almost ten years old, but the Marginal Prophets (cartoonist Keith Knight's band) are great fun. (Occasionally they get a little dirty but it's mostly entendre, not swear words.)

You're right about Tribe and De La Soul. Also, I've been amazed by early Public Enemy--the swears are few and far between. I'd play that comfortably with kids in my car.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2013


NWA - Express yourself.
Nobody
Catatonia
Zion I - Gotsta Chill, Vapors, Holy Visions

But really, Rakim's entire catalog. Or if you just want one song, 18th Letter, off that album.
posted by cashman at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, you might also try Latyrx or Blackalicious. The guys in those groups are wicked smart and as far as I'm recalling the swears are few and far between.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the deeper tracks, but everything I've heard from Lupe Fiasco has been pretty clean.
posted by ckape at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2013


I just spent a lot of time in the car with Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star) on heavy rotation, with my 2.5-year-old in the backseat, and don't remember noticing lots of swears or other language that made me want to not let him listen to it.

Disclaimer: like Slarty, my son drops the f-bomb, so I might just have not noticed bad language.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2013


After reading Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's Mo Meta Blues, I've been digging through The Roots back catalog (Grooveshark; Discography on Wikipedia). And I went all fanboy on Buck 65.

I'll dig through my library for more diverse suggestions.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2013


The Roots don't swear all that much, nor do the Beastie Boys. Also try The Mighty Underdogs, Common Market, Blue Scholars. Flobots, Common (not sure about his newer stuff), Blakroc (a little swearing), Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Crown City Rockers, Deltron 3030.

I can't tell you there's NO swearing, but there's not a lot in any of those.
posted by cnc at 2:43 PM on August 15, 2013


Here you go. No swears, positive message, and the rapper is a friend of mine.




plus I'm in it. Twice.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and that's Emory Anderson.
with more info and songs at the link. Enjoy!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:12 PM on August 15, 2013


Blackalicious. Fantastic, creative rap with generally positive or meaningful themes and limited swearing. I reccommend the Blazing Arrow album to start with. My favourite songs are "Day One", "Aural Pleasure", "Make you feel that way", "first in flight"... no, I have way too many favourites to list them all here. Check them out, they're awesome!
posted by windykites at 3:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


J-live is funky older-school rap that meshes well with my mortgaged and superannuated sensibilities.Virtually no swearing at all that I can recall. Likewise Lyrics Born and most of the people associated with him/that scene like Blackalicious, etc.
posted by smoke at 4:05 PM on August 15, 2013


One that I go back to a lot: John Robinson - Who Is This Man? , produced by MF Doom. It taps ATCQ's positivity, story-telling, and jazz-influence, but with Doom's production touch and more modern lyrical styling.
posted by p3t3 at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2013


This might be older than you're looking for (released in 1995) but one of my favorite rap songs "I Wish" by Skee-Lo. I think it holds up really well and I still listed to it regularly.
posted by VTX at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want some great hip-hop done in English by a French duo you gotta check out Chill Bump - I'd suggest starting with The Loop but they're all available to listen in full. Minimal swears, sick flow, varied topics. Great stuff.
posted by komara at 7:10 PM on August 15, 2013


Ozomatli exist in a weird, wonderful corner of Rap :
Saturday Night

Cut Chemist Suite

They are also one of the very few bands that I never get tired of. And they are a blast in concert.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blue Scholars?
posted by emmling at 8:52 PM on August 15, 2013


Gatsby the Great makes a thing out of not swearing a ton, though he does occasionally. Unfortunately, he chose his moniker before the movie, so he's harder to find on the innertubes now.
posted by klangklangston at 12:04 PM on August 16, 2013


I'm just discovering Lushlife. (From that Cloud Rap thread a while ago.) Seems very mild on the swearing so far. In this track, a single swear. Really creative video too.
posted by yoHighness at 5:07 PM on August 16, 2013


I was going to suggest Psalm One, but to be honest, I'm one of those people who doesn't hear tossed-off swears unless there are a lot of them, so I could be wrong. I suspect poking around on the (extensive) list of Rhymesayers' artists will yield some other hits.

Thirding Doomtree. On seeing this question, my reaction was essentially DESSA, DESSA, DESSA! I don't recall Cecil Otter's songs being particularly heavy on the vulgarities, but I haven't dug that deeply into his catalog.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:43 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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