Please recommend happy rap songs.
May 22, 2008 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of any happy, zippy, upbeat rap that I can run to? My last question about music made me realize there is a lot of stuff out there I've never heard.

Is there happy rap? ;) I am not educated much about music. I took a music appreciation class in college. I learned I like Chariots of Fire and Ode to Joy. And Amazing Grace (So far I am the only Wiccan I've met who likes Amazing Grace) They did not have any rap to listen to in that class.

I will listen to almost anything. No machinery or industrial noises, please, and the words must be something I can understand.

I have two dogs here. One is unflappable and one would rather live on a sheep farm in the 18th century. Nothing that would scare 18th Century Dog, please. :)
posted by AllieTessKipp to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I used to run to a soundtrack of A Tribe Called Quest (The Low End Theory, mostly) and the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique.) Both are "upbeat", I guess, and the lyrics in the Tribe stuff are really smart and clever, which gave me something to focus on other than my knees ;)
posted by littlerobothead at 9:42 PM on May 22, 2008

posted by betterton at 9:48 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

My favorite rap song ever :). Express Yourself- NWA.
posted by MadamM at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey Allie,
Yes there is alot of "happy rap" also you may want "hip hop" music for running... try some of these:

Q-TIP---"Breathe and Stop" , "Vivrant Thing"
TIMBALAND---"The Way I Are" (try other songs by Timbaland)
CIARA---"1,2,Step" ,"Get Up", "Goodies"

Soooo many songs out there. Hope this helps! Also,your last question...was that the song you were looking for ? ; )
posted by babyluvschrome at 9:59 PM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: Lupe Fiasco does a good line in happy, progressive hip-hop, and he's got the best name I've heard for a long time.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:10 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! I will listen to these tomorrow! :) Still hoping for lots of ideas. You never know when something will turn out to be great.

babyluvschrome, yes that was the one I was looking for. :) I hope your brain did not short out while trying to find it for me! :) I appreciate it. It was making me a bit nuts. :)
posted by AllieTessKipp at 10:43 PM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: I like this Canadian rapper named K-Os. Every song has a different style, but his general approach is uptempo and positive.

The Love Song
The Seekwill
posted by naju at 10:51 PM on May 22, 2008

Jurassic 5 - Feedback (check out the track "Red Hot" to start with, and then explore from there)

K-Os - Joyful Rebellion Checkout "Crabbucket" and then "flypaper" off of his newest CD.

Start with that for now.
posted by xotis at 10:56 PM on May 22, 2008

I really enjoy the Swedish group Speech Defect. Their videos are hilariously terrible, their beats and rhymes remain fresh. Could be hard to find their album though...
posted by robofunk at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2008

Obligatory k-os Born To Run.

He's really great live.
posted by robofunk at 11:12 PM on May 22, 2008

Not sure what you mean by happy, zippy, or upbeat. Are you talking about the content of the lyrics or the beat? or both?

When I think happy, upbeat, rap I think Crunk or Hyphy. But somehow I don't think that's what you're getting at.

Maybe try:
Missy Elliot
Jurassic 5
Kanye West
maybe old school like Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow or Grandmaster Flash
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 11:13 PM on May 22, 2008

I second "The Way I Are" by Timbaland, it really got me going on the tready last week.

I also recommend "Pon De Replay" by Rihanna.

If you can fit in non hip-hop, other cheery runny songs I like are "Steal My Sunshine," by Len; "Listen to the Trees" by The Gufs; "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by the Scissor Sisters; and "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel.
posted by angeline at 12:03 AM on May 23, 2008

De La Soul "Me Myself and I," Flo Rida "Elevator" (prod Timbaland.. this one is silly as hell but I like it), Busta Rhymes "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See," Webbie/Lil Boosie "Independent," Dilated Peoples f/Kanye "This Way," Crime Mob "Rock Yo Hips," T.I. "Bring em Out," P. Diddy f/Christina Aguilera "Tell Me" (can't stand his rapping but this sounds great.. so..), Fabolous "Breathe" (ditto), Foxy Brown f/Jay-Z "I'll Be," EPMD "So Wat Cha Sayin," Ghostface Killah "Cher Chez La Ghost", Outkast "Rosa Parks," Jadakiss "They Ain't Ready" (another Timbaland prod.), LL Cool J "Headsprung" (ditto), Jay-Z "I Just Wanna Love U," T-Pain "Church" (this is a trip.. T-Pain is great), Method Man f/Mary J Blige "You're All I Need to Get By," Missy Elliott "Sock It to Me," "Gossip Folks," Monie Love "It's a Shame," The Roots "The Seed 2.0" "Respond/React," Talib Kweli "Just to Get By" Tribe Called Quest "Check the Rhyme," "Award Tour," Kool Moe Dee "Wild Wild West," Eve "Tambourine"

and of course
Kanye West "Stronger," and "The New Workout Plan"
posted by citron at 12:50 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Seconding little robothead re: A Tribe Called Quest, but as great as the album the Low Endd Theory is, I wouldn't describe it as happy. More than anything, the D.A.I.S.Y. Age era of rap spawned by De La Soul's classic 3 Feet High and Rising fits this bill, with the likes of Jungle Brother following suit with Straight out the Jungle and Done by the Forces of Nature, and A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and to a lesser extent Midnight Marauders (The Low End Theory is incredible, though.)

There are other notable examples from hip hop's golden age. Beastie Boys' legendary Paul's Boutique has rightly been mentioned. 3rd Bass's The Cactus Album fits the bill, as does KMD's Black Bastards, only released in 2001 after a lengthy ban.

More recently the likes of Jurassic 5 and Ugly Duckling have maintained a tradition started by De La Soul etc. Start with the Jurassic 5 EP and UD's Freshmode or Journey to Anywhere. The Quannum Collective are in a similar vein, and I'd particularly recommend Blackalicious with Gift of Gab's feats of high tempo wordplay on tracks like A to Z and Chemical Calisthenics. Look for Blazing Arrow or the A2G EP.
posted by nthdegx at 1:24 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

It was remiss of me not to mention The Pharcyde's Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde as a stand-oout example from the golden era.
posted by nthdegx at 1:27 AM on May 23, 2008

Best answer: Where I'm From by the Digable Planets. My favorite rap song, and definitely happy.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 2:15 AM on May 23, 2008

Best answer: You might find The Holiday Rap fun to run to - brings a smile to the face even just for its euro-cheesiness!
posted by razzman at 5:46 AM on May 23, 2008

Jurassic 5-- Swing Set
It may also serve as a good transition from your more classical experience, as it's built from 40's-style swing. I'd also check out Ozomatli.
posted by Morydd at 6:17 AM on May 23, 2008

Pigeon John, "Do the Pigeon."
Soul Position, "Things Go Better."
Ghostface Killa, "Champion." <>
Seconding Ozomatli. "Magnolia Soul" is probably best for this. Check it out first.
posted by jeffmshaw at 6:33 AM on May 23, 2008

I'm a little too WASPY to know whether this counts as rap or hip-hop, but I've always been partial to "Gonna Make You Sweat" by C&C Music Factory.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on May 23, 2008

This is not all bouncy happy hiphop, but if you're looking for running music, you'll want a longer mix-set. Audio1 presents: High School Classiks
posted by anthill at 7:14 AM on May 23, 2008

Best answer: One to Grow On by the UMCs

Humpty Dance! I like my oatmeal lumpy!

The Jungle Brothers have been pumping out a pretty steady stream of positive, party-oriented hip hop for some time now - e.g.: VIP.

Same can be said of the first couple albums by The Stereo MCs, stuff like Lost in Music and Elevate My Mind

whoa, these are all some stoopid &/or goofy vids... just listen, don't watch

except this one, which rules: Way of Life - Stylophonic (w/ Humpty as a hiphop panda!)
posted by jammy at 7:16 AM on May 23, 2008

Volume 1 (downloadable above) is the happy/zippiest... Hip hop hooray.
posted by anthill at 7:18 AM on May 23, 2008

Here are some rappers with a positive vibe and easy-to-understand lyrics. Basically, most people have been recommending underground rappers. That's where you'll find more intellectual rappers who focus on positive/constructive themes (as opposed to more mainstream gangsta rappers like 50 Cent/DMX).

Common (e.g. "Be")
Mos Def (e.g. "Summertime")
Talib Kweli (e.g. "Joy")
Lifesavas (e.g. "Livin' Life")
De La Soul (e.g. "All Good")
Murs (e.g. "LA")

Your best strategy is to go to or, throw in the name of one of these rappers, and see what similar music comes up.
posted by lunchbox at 7:38 AM on May 23, 2008

EmpressCallipygos' recommendation of C&C Music Factory reminded me of some late 80s/early-mid 90s artists who merged hip-hop into house music. Fast Eddie, Rob Bass, etc. Not the best lyrics, but usually great, fast daceable (and, IMO, joggable) beats.

There are probably current artists doing the same thing, but I havan't listened to rap in well over a decade, so somebody else can chime in if they want.
posted by odragul at 8:20 AM on May 23, 2008

Kanye West - The Good Life, Workout Plan, Touch the Sky, Champion, We Major
De La Soul - Eye Know
Afrika Bambaataa - Jazzy Sensation, Zulu Nation Throwdown
posted by porn in the woods at 8:40 AM on May 23, 2008

I have no idea if it qualifies as rap or not, or whether it's as happy as you want, but I used to love running to Callin' Out by Lyrics Born. I found it motivating and inspiring and it never failed to get me moving.
posted by at 8:53 AM on May 23, 2008

Response by poster: hal_c_on, thank you. :) You have summed up what I want.

I won't have time to test out all these today but definitely will over the weekend, and I will mark the ones I like.

I did mean happy lyrics and happy beat, both. I don't like industrial or machinery sounds in music, and not being able to understand the lyrics makes the song pointless, doesn't it? I realize those criteria rule out a lot :) but anything that narrows the choices down is welcome in this case--there is no shortage of rap. ;)

she wants the rap version of MMMBop.

:) :) :)
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:07 AM on May 23, 2008

Ugly Duckling is the group you wanna listen to.
posted by gnutron at 10:27 AM on May 23, 2008

Seconding DJ Format/Abdominal.
posted by Melinika at 10:32 AM on May 23, 2008

Listening to 80's rap always puts me in a good mood:

MC Miker G and DJ Sven - Holiday Rap

Kurtis Blow - That's the Breaks

Whodini - Mr. Magic's Wand

Eddie Murphy - Boogie in Your Butt

Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin'

If you liked these, you might like the suggestions in this question of mine from a while ago.
posted by pravit at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2008

Skip all the mp3 hunting and just get all of Kanye West's albums. You'll be happy.
posted by muscat at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2008

"I Wish" - Skee-Lo
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:26 PM on May 23, 2008

I second "Joy" by Talib Kweli.
posted by Beardman at 12:29 PM on May 23, 2008

What you're looking for is Dream by Dizzee Rascal.

It might be a bit of a stretch to call it rap and probably more funny than happy, but Your Missus is a Nutter by Goldie Lookin Chain is always fun.

Also Sunshine by Atmosphere is one of my faves. Not everything that Atmosphere does is happy, but it's all worth checking out, especially Guarantees (not a happy one).

Also nthing Kanye West, esp. Jesus Walks and Workout Plan.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:14 PM on May 23, 2008

Hey Allie,
If you have iTunes...type in "iTunes essentials" in search....then click on "iTunes essentials:main page" (on the right of your screen) scroll down and you'll see "MY GROOVE". You will find workout music compilations for running,stretching,weight lifting...even cool down. Also,check out "GENRES AND HISTORY" ...they have a Pop Rap compilation that I think you'll like...Enjoy!
posted by babyluvschrome at 9:09 PM on May 23, 2008

Jesus Walks isn't happy rap I don't think. Kanye in general is not happy rap. Workout Plan is funny in places I guess. Touch the Sky - not really happy to me. More epic and vibish. hal_c_on is right - might want to skip most of this stuff. If you're going to pick an artist or group to listen to, clearly choose the De La (Soul) and I'd skip most Kanye.

Here's some De La not on their albums, cause it's on Latifah's (All Hail the Queen):

Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children


OutKast - Hey Ya
Cee-Lo ft Ludacris - Childz Play
Poor Righteous Teachers - Can I Start This
Shapeshifters - Circuit City
Busta Rhymes - Woo Ha! (got you all in check)
Black Sheep - Strobelite Honey
MC Lyte - Cha Cha Cha (pretty happyzippy)
Da Backwudz - I Don't Like The Look Of It (great video).
Jin - Backpack

More fun than happy:

Monie Love - Monie in the Middle
Gorillaz & Redman - Gorillaz on My Mind (19-2000 remix)
BEP - Don't Phunk With My Heart (I hate Fergie, but hey, the song is good)
OutKast - So Fresh, So Clean (somewhat zippy/happy, but smoothish)
3rd Bass - Sons of 3rd Bass

Honorable mentions, you may like a lot of Self's stuff. Trunk Fulla Amps is cool, Redman's I'll Be Dat (make sure you watch the vid, especially around 2:10), and his "Jam 4 U" if you feel frisky. Hilarious lyrics. Also the BloodHound Gang - Fire, Water, Burn, Das Efx - They Want Efx, If Only, Freezepop - Freezepop Forever.

There's a really good and zippy song I didn't include beacuse it references analingus with balsamic vinagrette, but mail me if you want that one too...uh, yeah.
posted by cashman at 11:32 PM on May 23, 2008

These aren't necessarily upbeat, nor necessarily rap (but they do fall under the rubric of hip-hop, I think), but damn, they are songs you can get down with:

Gnarles Barkley, Run (I'm a Natural Disaster) [It's an anti-drug song disguised as a song about kids fleeing from monsters, but damn if it isn't the best work-out song this year]

Outkast, B.O.B. [This was when I realized that I could sing along (crappily) to pretty much any sung song, but the technical ability of rap artists is far beyond me. Also, you can run to it.]

Outkast (yes) Hey Ya! [Yes, that song. It's both a great song about relationships and a scathing indictment of modern (early 21th century) pop-hop]

Black Eye Peas Joints & Jam [Before Fergie, The Black Eye Peas were pretty much awesome. If you like De La Soul, you'll probably like this album, and especially this song]

Eminem Lose Yourself [Yeah, it's Eminem. Let me tell you something. When he's not rapping about killing his wife or fart jokes or how awesome he is, he absolutely one of the greatest rap artists alive (hell, even when he is, you just feel ashamed for liking it). This also happens to be one of the most inspirational songs written. Hell, when I get discouraged in my own career, this one lifts me out. It is a brilliant fucking song. It's also right up there with Eye of the Tiger as a workout song (but not as cliche, yet).]

This is in addition to the above that have been mentioned (I do particularly like Mos Def and Talib Kweli (Joy is brilliant)). I don't know if MF Doom has been mentioned, but he can be, if not exactly upbeat, quirky at least. He and Danger Mouse (from Gnarles Barkley) wrote a whole album about Adult Swim.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:38 PM on May 23, 2008

Best answer: Definitely try Nelly's "Heart of a Champion". I love working out to this song mostly because of it's chorus.
posted by saoyama at 10:29 AM on May 24, 2008

Best answer: She wants the rap version of MMMBop

Rob Base - It Takes Two

more old stuff
Run DMC - It's Tricky
Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick - The Show
Heavy D & the Boyz [LOLOL]
posted by citron at 11:25 PM on May 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

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