By Huck Kwong
Hip-hop is rooted in struggle and perseverance. So many of the best rap songs ever made tell the individual stories of starting from the bottom and hustling to come out on top—they are stories of struggle, pain, confidence, and determination. These are things we can all relate to, and that's part of the reason hip-hop has spread to suburbs and foreign countries and from street corners to stadiums.
While the themes are universal, the means to relay them are often very specific. Rappers tell their stories by sharing what they know, by drawing from their own life experience and speaking on things that only they've been through. While a kid in the suburbs growing up in the 2000s might not be able to relate to stories of growing up in the ghetto during the '80s, he or she can still be deeply moved by them. There have been plenty of arguments about whether or not you can really enjoy a piece of music when you can't relate, but the best rappers have a way of making this argument seem pointless—you can. You may not be able to connect on the level of someone who's been through the same things, but you can certainly draw from the experience of others and take something away from it. Shit, when done correctly, you can even start to feel nostalgic about things that didn't even happen to you.
Whether you're from Compton or Connecticut, find a good window, corner, cul-de-sac, or stoop, and drift away with these nostalgic rap songs.