How Do You Express Your Love?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I wanted a bit of a change of pace with this post. I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day; I have ever since I was little. I would go all out in elementary school, with the most obnoxious homemade cards. My poor parents had to put in so much time to help me cut out large hearts. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a fan of Galentine’s Day (thanks to Leslie Knope). Getting wine drunk and eating chocolate in cute pajamas with my girlfriends. Celebrating how lucky I am to have them by my side. Showering them with cute treats and fun cards. I have had some sweet Valentine’s Days; I still remember one year when a guy bought me two boxes of Cheez-Its. That was the real winner. But even without romantic attachment, I still looked forward to the day when I’d see people walking around with teddy bears and gorgeous bouquets. It’s fun to have a day dedicated to going above and beyond to tell those around you that you love them. This year, however, is a bit different. Dating during a global pandemic isn’t easy, and unfortunately, spending it alone, especially without your friends, makes it a bit harder. So to help those who may not have any plans get into the mood, I wanted to highlight the beauty of love languages and the different ways in which you can express your sentiments to those around you. Love languages align with how you display your fondness and can vary by person. Your dominant love language is either GiftsQuality TimePhysical Touch, Words of Affirmation, or Acts of Service. Hip-Hop isn’t typically thought of as the most romantic, so I wanted to make this post to debunk that myth, and possibly give you a fun playlist to listen to while you enjoy a bottle of wine (either by yourself; no shame! Or with a loved one). The irony of it all? I’m very very single, and even after numerous Buzzfeed quizzes, I have no idea what the hell my love language is. So despite how unqualified I am to write this, I hope you enjoy it!

Gift Giving and Receiving

The first of the love languages is gift-giving and receiving. This is one of my favorite ways to demonstrate my love for others. I love giving my friends and family gifts, whether it’s something small and intimate, or a way for them to try something new. I think it’s an amazing way to show someone that you’re thinking of them. However, not everyone responds well to them. Some people are uncomfortable when receiving gifts, while others show appreciation no matter the scale. Likewise, some prefer to give gifts with a lot of sentimental value, such as something homemade, while others prefer to give something high-end and flashy. Often times in Hip-Hop music we see gifts given out of lust, or as a way to express one’s wealth. It’s usually big designer brands or extravagant vacations, offered even in the earliest stages of courting to show why you are deserving of their love. It can differentiate a person from their competition or show that they can take care of their girl. Mase lays out his something from nothing love story on his track, “What You Want.” Throughout the song, he talks about giving his girl anything she wants now that he has the means to, showing that instead of switching up and leaving her behind after becoming famous, he wants to show his appreciation for her sticking around. He sweetly tells her to “walk through the mall, if [she likes] it [she] can grab it, total it up and put it on [his] tab,” proving to her that money is no longer an object, and even if it was, it would be worth it because of all that she’s done for him. Towards the end of the song, he raps that “the more [she treats] him royal [he adores] her, that’s why [he doesn’t] mind doing these things for [her].” He knows that it brings her happiness and makes her feel appreciated like how she makes him feel, so he goes out of his way to give her what she wants. Similarly, T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” outlines his love for his girl by saying that she gets to live his luxury lifestyle. He makes it known that “any time [she wants] to pick up the telephone/it ain’t nothin’ to drop a couple stacks on [her]. [She wants] it? [She] can get it,” showing that he loves spoiling her, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t give her. He wants to “treat [her] so special so nice,” emphasizing that his way of doing that is through showering her with anything she could imagine. 

Jeremih, Ty Dolla $ign, and French Montana set a different standard, however, in “FYT.” In the song, they alternate the chorus with the lines, “we gon’ give you everything, diamond rings, I could bring,” with the line “he don’t give you anything, diamond rings, I could bring.” They set themselves apart with their exceptional gifts, showing that this should be a given in any relationship, and yet only they have the means to do so. Essentially, they believe that a strong relationship entails spoiling your woman, and if you aren’t able to, you aren’t deserving of her. Whodini also thinks these lavish gifts are a necessity in his song, “One Love,” where he details the beauty of falling in love, even if it’s just once in your lifetime. He recalls how he “used to buy everything from diamonds to gold, for [he] thought she’d left [him] cause [he] didn’t buy her enough, [until] she left [him] alone with all of [his] stuff.” It indicates that perhaps, receiving gifts was never a priority of his partner. Differences in love languages can demonstrate how one person may perceive a certain act as fundamental in their relationship, whereas the other simply thought of it as a sweet gesture. Without taking the time to discover what our partners need to feel love, sometimes the ornate gifts just aren’t enough.

Quality Time

One love language that couples have had quite the abundance of this past year is quality time. This comes in the form of asking your significant other to accompany you somewhere or to take a weekend getaway so that it’s just the two of you. I think this was one of the easiest ways to separate lust from love as I was shuffling through lyrics. This wasn’t about sex or spending money, it was about just being with someone, basking in their presence. I think it’s a very sweet feeling to have someone who just wants to spend time with you, even if it’s sitting in silence or doing work together. Lil Flip’s “Sunshine” was always one of my favorite songs. The chorus features Lea singing the line, “maybe we can spend some time,” followed by Lil Flip listing how they can do that. It’s wholesome that she can make her love language known, and he will respond with ways in which they can follow through with it. He acknowledges that he knows she “wanna chill with a playa,” so he mentions that they can “meet up the next day and chill.” He doesn’t mention cruises and private jets until later, first letting her know that they can use the quality time to get to know each other a bit more. Kendrick Lamar also describes the basic roots of a relationship in his song, “Love.” The song suggests the foundations that are needed to make a relationship work while reiterating the idea that when you’re in love, you only need the other person. Kendrick repeats the lines “I wanna be with you,” making it known that there isn’t much he needs from the relationship; being in their company and feeling their energy is enough. That’s the beauty of spending quality time with someone.

Sometimes when I listen to Dead Prez’s “Mind Sex,” I think it’s too good to be true; they say everything that I wish a man would say to me. They reiterate just how important it is to be able to sit and converse with someone, even stating that it’s just as important as the physical relationship. This song has so many amazing lines. They open it up by announcing that “it’s time for some mind sex, we ain’t gotta take our clothes off yet. We can burn the incense and just chat/before we make love, let’s have a good conversation.” Speaking intimately and openly with someone you love is such an incredible feeling, and they stress the importance of good vibes and amazing company. You can find someone as attractive as ever, but if you aren’t intrigued by their mind, the relationship will only last so long. Conversely, if you meet someone who you don’t instantly find attractive, hanging out with them and feeling comfortable while having fun can completely alter how you see them. They even take the time to ask the subject about her interests, wanting to “share a moment over herbal tea.” The simplicity and innocence behind that is such a beautiful picture to conjure, and it shows that he is paying attention to how he can make her happy. They even describe these innocent moments they can share together as their foreplay, showing that they find pleasure in spending time with their partner.

Mike Jones’ “Next To You” mentions a lot about their sexual relationship, but the chorus of the song expresses how much he “gotta be next to [her].” They even stress that they’re content as long as they’re spending time, and I think that’s a very loving sentiment. He continues this thought in the first verse when he raps that he “ain’t trippin about the limelight cause when [he’s] with [his] shorty she keeps [his] mind right,” showing the equality in their relationship and the fact that she keeps him grounded. It also takes away from this common misconception that all rappers stray in their relationships and care more about groupies when in reality, there are a lot of them in extremely successful relationships. Similarly, 50 Cent’s “Best Friend” discusses the idea that your significant other should be your best friend. A lot of the ideas he talks about touches on other love languages. For instance, he mentions that after talking, “then [they] get to touchin,” demonstrating the language of physical touch. He also brings up little acts of service, such as helping her wash her back in her bubble bath or putting lotion on her. He uses words of affirmation to confide in her, telling her all of his secrets. But the chorus repeats the line, “if I was your best friend, I want you ’round all the time,” and I think that’s extremely telling of the regard he holds for her. I was raised on the idea that your partner should be your friend first, so to be able to find bliss in just spending quality time with them is an amazing feeling. There’s nothing more special in someone wanting you to accompany them for the most remedial of tasks, simply because it means you’re doing them together.

Physical Touch

Physical touch is where things start to get a bit blurry. There is no shortage of sex songs in Hip-Hop. But it is a bit more difficult to find songs that describe the vulnerability that goes along with other types of physical contact, such as holding hands, hugging, and cuddling. It was also complicated to decipher songs in which the act of sex was genuinely tied to love, although tone and diction helped play a huge part in this. I love me some Jean Grae, so I was super excited to include her on this list. She perfectly encapsulates the comfort one can feel in their loved one’s physical touch in her song, “Love Thirst.” She describes cuddling as “[leaning] your chest on me, [making] you my sweater,” showing the cozy, warm, safe sensation. She also uses the word need a lot when describing their physical interactions, expressing statements like “I want contact,” and “you need a taste,” showing the hunger that can be created when in a strong physical bond. Now, you guys are probably going to hate me for beating this song to death, but how the hell can I write a post about love and not include “The Light,” one of Hip-Hop’s most romantic songs ever. Much like a few of the others, this song has a lot of notable lines that could classify it in a few of the love languages. However, it’s the way he talks about sex that shows the importance of it when it’s someone you love. He describes it as committing love, claiming that “the sex ain’t gon’ keep you, but as my equal, it’s how I must treat you,” showing that it’s an intimate and physical way to express your love that is about both parties. He knows that it’s just as much about pleasing her as it is for him and if anything, he does it to prove just how much he loves her.

LL Cool J uses physical touch to describe his crush in “Hey Lover.” In the song, he yearns to “lay [her] on [her] stomach and caress [her] back/hold [her] in [his] arms and ease [her] fears,” showing his desire to bring her comfort and protection through physical touch. Of course, he does imagine having sex with her, but even then, his fantasies are solely revolved around pleasing her and worshipping her body, showing his devotion towards her. Those fantasies finally come to fruition when they come into contact, describing their physical interactions as touching her gently with his hands and kissing her softly. Those adjectives suggest a level of respect and patience, and it’s beautiful to see the level of bliss he finds after that initial touch. Similarly, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum” features the iconic line, “I like to kiss you where some brothers won’t,” showing his level of dedication and love for his partner. He wants to explore his partner’s body, finding beauty in every crevice, even if her previous lovers may have thought otherwise. It also demonstrates breaking down boundaries, as they’re willing to touch each other everywhere. I have to end this section with Mac Miller’s “Cinderella,” because goodness. This song makes me sweat. He begins the song by building up the anticipation to this moment, mentioning how the sex keeps him in line, ignoring other women for her. He mentions dreaming about touching her, showing just how highly he values those interactions. He even juxtaposes hearing “I love you” with the feeling of his partner touching him, equating the feeling to those 3 words that mean so much in a relationship. He also expresses how he gets high off of her fragrances, illustrating the close proximity and the idea that he’s breathing her in. Similarly, he reveals multiple ways in which their physical relationship affects their overall dynamic, showing that it plays a prominent role in their situation. A lot of the diction is very fantasy-like and whimsical, including the imagery surrounding Cinderella, angels, God, dreams, and flight, showing just how divine their physical experiences are together.

Words of Affirmation

LL Cool J actually had quite a few songs that were perfect for this post. Throughout his track, “I Need Love,” he expresses that he shows his affection towards his fantasy girl by “[saying] amor/whispering ‘I love you’ and ‘I’ll always be there’.” He’s vocal about how he feels, not shying away from making his love known. He envisions showering her with declarations of his love, even during moments in which his actions convey this. Words of affirmation are a fairly straight-forward way of showing your feelings, but sometimes that reassurance is all a person needs. Pharrell practices this in, “Beautiful,” by calling the object of his affection, “beautiful” and wanting her “to know [she’s his] favorite girl.” Making sure that she knows this sentiment is a small detail, but it can completely change a person’s mood. Even if you already know it, hearing praise from someone you love is an extremely special feeling. In The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By,” they share the story of how Fatlip attempted to write a love letter to the woman he has feelings for. In the letter, he writes that if “I wasn’t such a simp/I would let you know that I love you/the only lying I would do is in the bed with you.” In true rom-com fashion, the letter returns with a failed delivery, making his feelings go unsaid. Regardless, rather than opting for flowers or chocolates, he chose to write her something that clearly expressed his thoughts, allowing him to be far for vulnerable than he could be in person. Furthermore, Talib Kweli plays the role of a true romantic in “We Know,” as he raps about his lady, making it known that she’s the inspiration behind the lyrics that he writes. She’s on the side of the stage for every performance as he serenades her with rhymes about how she moves him, and later sings back to him the words which he’s written. It’s clear that those words contribute to their bond, and by singing them together, they share an intimate moment that helps their relationship develop and grow.

Acts of Services

The final love language is acts of service. Acts of service are those that are meant to make your partner’s life easier, or perhaps to spoil them a bit through sweet gestures. They can be chores around the house or pampering them with a massage. In “Cupid’s Chokehold,” Travie McCoy talks about the different girls he’s fallen in love with. The first one he mentions tends to perform small tasks to demonstrate her love, cooking him pancakes and giving him “Alka Seltzer when [his] tummy aches.” She takes care of him when he isn’t feeling and enjoys cooking for him, showing the nurturing side to her personality. Contrastingly, in her new track, “Put It Down,” Jazmine Sullivan demonstrates how she shows her love and appreciation after getting ‘dickmatized.’ Despite this coming from a place of lust, she makes it known that the way he makes her feel hasn’t gone unrecognized. She mentions that she treats him like a king, including “[paying] his rent” and “[cooking] like mama.” The exaggerated situation portrays the types of things we do to show our love, even if it is just a physical connection.

Moreover, Fabolous’s “Into You” demonstrates his recognition of the small things his girl does for him, even with the abundance of money that he has. For instance, despite having the means to go out to eat in luxurious steakhouses, he mentions that the way his girl cooks steak “reminds [him] of those strips in Ruth Chris.” It exhibits the comfort and love that goes into those actions and the fact that the thoughtfulness behind it is what makes the person feel so loved, and he definitely recognizes that. The tragic love story in Lost Boyz’ “Renee” uses acts of service to demonstrate the respect they feel towards their girl. They mention doing small things for her, such as walking her to her subway, going with her to buy dog food, rolling her blunts, and setting up candlelight dinners. The thought behind the small actions and being there for her in case something goes wrong shows a protective nature, one that is dedicated to helping her with even the simplest of tasks. He mentions how he’s never been in love before, so it’s fair to assume that this is a bit out of character for him, but nonetheless, he takes the time to show his love before her life sadly ends.

Love languages can be explored and shown through so many different ways and on so many different levels; they can be displayed through small gestures or large declarations of love. No matter how they’re shown, they require a degree of vulnerability and comfort. Hip-Hop can be quite romantic, but it’s difficult to find lyrics in which rappers are willing to show their weaknesses. While being able to buy your partner luxurious gifts and trips is impressive, it’s also beautiful to spend time doing what the other person enjoys or relishing simple activities together such as cooking and watching movies. No matter how it’s conveyed, being in love is a beautiful feeling. I hope everyone has an amazing Valentine’s Day.♥

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