6 reasons why listening to rap & hip hop is the best thing you can do for your self development

live rap performance

By: Case Kenny (@case.kenny)


There’s something to be said about the cathartic power of getting in your car, rolling the windows up and blasting your favorite tune while driving down the highway. No worries about uppity neighbors or missing someone shouting your name. Just you and the music. The healing power of bass!

More than that, the effect that certain music and genres play in your life cannot be understated. Certain music brings back memories and teleports you to a time in your past where you heard that song and you associate it with a certain experience and the friends you were with.

That tropical house song and that late night party in Cabo.

That Dave Matthews song and summers in Virginia.

Maybe country music? (maybe?… eh nevermind)

My point is that music has an amazing ability to conjure up memories and create nostalgia. It causes you to reflect and appreciate.

Recently, I have gotten back into a certain genre of music that has had a profound effect on my self-development. It has shown me the power that music can have in propelling you forward.

Listening to rap music can accelerate your self-development.

Keep in mind that I am a white, 29 year old middle/upper class man so I often find it hard to relate to a lot of the themes and lyrics of the music I am listening to… BUT, the lyrics and artists I have connected with have shown me a genre of music that has power to positively affect and improve yourself and your mentality towards life and success.

These are 6 reason to listen to rap and hip hop music.

listening to rap - artist

1. Catharsis.

Much to the chagrin of many who bemoan the flashy themes of many hip hop artists, it has been shown that listening to rap music that projects rags to riches type stories/themes can have a very positive mental effect on listeners. A study conducted at Cambridge University’s Department of Pyschology suggests “that a great deal of rap music, with its rags-to-riches narrative trajectories, displays “positive visual imagery”, a psychotherapeutic technique common among sports stars, in which one envisages the place where one would like to be, so as to facilitate one’s progression to a better mental place.”

The study goes on to show that rap is more than merely a celebration of material excess and success, but rather a cathartic release for both artists and listeners.

I have found this study to be particularly true in my life as rap has helped me bring to the surface of my mind, certain images I have of myself that often lay dormant in my subconscious. I’m picturing the uber successful version of myself that I am working towards – a version of myself that I am taking steps towards becoming.

Listening to artists like Kendrick Lamar or Logic who in their songs depict successful lifestyles and financial success not only plays a role in goal setting but in that moment of release and depiction – catharsis.

As an entrepreneur, I have found humility and being under-estimated to be my greatest assets. I stay in-line with that but by listening to rap I am offered periodic catharsis where I can vision the most uber, blinged-out version of myself and, for a moment, can envision what that is and HOW GREAT I AM.

It truly offers a moment of release and clarity. Then it’s back to the grind and being under-stated – that’s my style.

2. Rap teaches you to know your own worth.

Humble and rap are two words that are diametrically opposed.

Rappers like to use their verses to tell others how great they are. That’s part of the genre and I appreciate it. It can teach listeners a thing or two about knowing your value.

I tend to be humble in my efforts and with my success, but rap has reminded me that I am a BAMF! RIGHT?!

It has reminded me that I have immense value to offer in many facets of my life and business and that sometimes you need to let it loose and share it with the world.

In an entrepreneurial sense, this reminder has motivated me to align with the most capitalist statement in the world – – “if you’re good at something, never do it for free” – – and rap has reminded me that my ability/skill-set and my experience in life are things that are entirely unique to me and that is my value. That is something that no one else has and that I should be proud of and eager to share with the world when and where I feel like it.

On 0 to 100, Drake says it best:

Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth…
My actions been louder than my words…
How you sold albums, still so down to Earth…

Chance the Rapper also said it best on “Everybody’s Something

Everybody’s somebody’s everything.
I know you right.
Nobody’s nothing.
That’s right.

3. Be thankful.

A central theme of rap music is the journey and embracing the past. Most hip hop music focuses on the past and experiences therein as a means to empower the rapper himself as those experiences and ups and downs are what make him unique.

Along the same lines, being thankful for the experiences (both good and bad) that happened in the past are what provide you with the present – that is a big theme.

Like many millennials grinding out their 20s, I struggle with taking time to reflect, be present and thankful. Gratitude is a practice that can radically improve your life but is one that is often difficult to do consistently with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Listening to rap has reinvigorated me to reflect on the past experiences in my life and be thankful for them. It has encouraged me to be thankful for the haters in my life and to embrace the present.

I’d really encourage you to not only listen to hip hop that reflects on the past and expresses gratitude towards it, but to also engage in daily/weekly gratitude journaling or mindfulness. It can do wonders for you.

Jay-Z said it best on Thank You from The Blueprint III:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, you’re far too kind
Hold your applause, this is your song not mines

That is no reason to treat me like I’m somehow from outta heaven
Heaven knows that I’ve made my mistakes, thank God, what a guy as I say my grace

4. Be authentic.

Rappers are unapologetically themselves and they’re not afraid to express themselves to the fullest. They have no shame towards who they are and they embrace any haters who disagree with their lifestyle.

Rappers tend to laud the fact that they keep it real, and I love that. Whether they actually do so 24/7 or sometimes waver like we all do, rappers embrace who they are at their core and they let their lyrics speak for themselves.

I love listening to new, up and coming rappers with unique styles. It’d be easy to approach hip hop with the same style and delivery of today’s most popular rappers – emulate their style and be successful as a result. The non-conformists are truly authentic in their delivery, style and brand and I have found it to be a positive reminder to stay true to yourself and not let others define you.

Eazy-E said it best when he said: “I don’t think I’m all this or that, but I’m all me.”

5. Always be learning.

Despite rappers’ tendency to boast about their accomplishments and self-worth, they also tend to really stress the fact that they are masters of their craft and always practicing and pushing it forward.

I’m a huge fan of the artist Logic and in his interviews he also mentions his ardent dedication to practice.

That reminder is an important thing to call out – even today’s most successful artists practice.

No matter what level of success you have achieved, there is always room to continue educating yourself. That is a choice you can make. It it your choice to allow yourself to plateau or to continue learning.

Rap has encouraged me to never accept the status quo and to never be fully satisfied with my current skill level or knowledge-base on something. There is always room for improvement BUT I am also reminded that the grass is always greener. Keep learning and improving and do it for YOU:

J. Cole said it best on “Love Yourz

Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you got
Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
Always gon’ be a [chick] that’s badder out there on the tours
But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours

De La Soul reflected on this in “Trying People

Throughout my change to grow, Some of my people got left behind/
They didn’t listen for the gun, as I leaped from off the line/

Thirteen years deep in this marathon I’m runnin/
Paid dues and still got bills to pay

7. Embrace the journey.

Rappers embrace the grind. They embrace the game. They embrace the cards they’ve been dealt.

Listening to hip hop has reinvigorated my faith in the journey and that you must have faith that you are on the right path.

I am a big believer in manifestation of what you ask for. If you embrace the direction of life that the universe has provided you and you continue to strive for the best version of every aspect of your life, I am confident that the universe will provide.

Hip hop similarly reflects on this idea of hard work and manifestation. Years of grind and practice ultimately deliver you what you deserve. Along the way, you will be faced with both blessings and trials, but ultimately if you stay true to yourself and trust the process, you will arrive just where you need to be.

Kanye said this best on “Everything I am” where he reflects on how many initially discouraged him from rapping early on.

Pink slip on my door, cause I can’t afford to stay
My 15 seconds up, but I got more to say
That’s enough Mr. West, please, no more today

Enjoy this article? Listen to my podcast New Mindset, Who Dis? New episodes twice a week. 

Written by Case Kenny

Case is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and the host of the New Mindset, Who Dis podcast. Reach him at or @case.kenny on Instagram.

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