Morning Coffee

As a child of late 80s and 90s hip-hop this is the ultimate day starter. Circa 97, I basically played this every morning before I headed for work. "Royalty" is one of the more positive example of rap's medicinal qualities. At its core its a music of (male) striving and overcoming:


Major effect to your sector, I'm the corrector
Live and direct, holding my mic like a scepter.
Supreme exalted, universal leader.
Descendant of the kings and queens, the overseer..
Again--Gang Starr has done it.
Remember too much jewels back in the days, you had to run it.

That's quite an egotistical collection, unless you consider the last line which really is the key. I've said before that you accustom yourself to violence in the streets, but that accustoming isn't without cost--specifically, I'd argue, in your broader confidence and sense of self-worth. You learn to live a certain way, and you can survive that way, but the stress of having to constantly watch out still grinds you down.

A great deal of hip-hop can be interpreted as an effort resist that grind, It's about pumping yourself up in the morning to walk the streets. And long after you've left the streets it's about pumping yourself up for the greater world. That part about being in school or the library meant a lot to me when I was in college.

Basically it was strong coffee.


Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In