And now for something completely different.

Kendrick_Lamar_Way_Out_West_2013_(cropped)

Photo credit at end of post

Since I have begun freelancing and working from home full-time, I find that music is a good way to vary and set my pace throughout the day, to manage my mood and energy, and to keep the house from feeling too empty. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop, surprising even myself with how much I am enjoying it. I hardly listen to anything else at the moment.

In many ways, my newfound hip-hop education makes sense. Fifty-one-year-old former South Dakota farm girls may not be rappers’ target demographic, but I am also a writer and reader, a word lover, an English teacher and literature major. I am constantly pulled to stories about people, how we are different from each other, how we are the same, and how we can better understand the mystery that is being alive.

Hip-hop, perhaps more than any other music genre, celebrates and taps into the power of language and story.

Below are three examples of what I’ll be listening to today. If you have never paid much attention to hip-hop—especially if, as was the case with me until a couple of years ago, your knowledge of hip-hop has been largely based on one or two artists or stereotypes—I urge you to take some time to watch the videos.

The first is brand new: hotter-than-hot Kendrick Lamar’s mash-up performance from Wednesday night’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The second is Eminem’s video of “Beautiful” (recommended especially for anyone familiar with depression, either in yourself or someone you love). The final video is Kanye West’s 2008 Grammy performance of “Hey Mama,” which he performed as a tribute after the death of his mother (recommended: also listen to the full version of the song here).

And don’t forget to check out the varied and engaging blog posts that are part of the #30PostsHathSept Back to Blogging Challenge. More are added every day!

Kendrick Lamar photo credit: Kim Metso, Kendrick Lamar at Way Out West 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, CC BY-SA 3.0