New Orleans is home to many rappers, including Lil Wayne and Juvenile. So, when Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast five years ago this weekend, it only felt natural for hip-hop to step up and capture the debacle on wax. It's been five years since the disaster and this Katrina-inspired playlist reminds us that we're still singing the same ol' song.
5. OutKast feat, Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg, "Hollywood Divorce"
Lil Wayne had already wrapped up recording on Tha Carter II before Katrina arrived, so updating his album with a song about the disaster was out of the question. But Weezy seized his first collaboration opportunity to give the public a piece of his mind. "The hurricane came and took my Louisiana home/ And all I got in return was a darn country song," he raps on "Hollywood Divorce."
As throngs of displaced NOLA residents fled to the Bayou City, we were constantly reminded of the disaster's close proximity to home. Houston's own Legendary K.O. (Damien "D.R." Randle and Micah "Big Mon" Nickerson) were actually the first artists to dedicate a full song to the disaster. Inspired by Kanye's famous telethon words and backed by that face-scraping "Gold Digger" bassline, "George Bush Don't Like Black People" quickly became an Internet sensation.
3. Public Enemy, "Hell No, We Ain't Alright"
We sometimes wonder how Tupac would have reacted to today's catastrophic events. What would he say about the government's handling of Katrina, for example? We'll never know. What we do know is that one of the greatest voices of our generation is still around to hold politicians' feet to the fire. Chuck D is still kicking mean rhymes, still dropping knowledge like the year was '88. Exhibit 1: "Hell No, We Ain't Alright," in which he chides Bush for sitting on his hands, Pat Robertson for "hatin' on Haiti" and TV stars for driving "big rim cars."
2. Mos Def - "Dollar Day (Katrina Clap)"
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Mos Def may be the only rapper to ever get away with permanently ruining a party anthem. In 2006, Mos jacked Juvenile's "Nola Clap" beat and proceeded to blast the human mismanagement that left Katrina victims vulnerable. "Mr. President is a natural ass/ He out treating niggas like they treat the trash," Mos raps. While purists may have frowned at his beat choice, it still had armchair activists doing the Nola clap.
1. Lil Wayne feat. Robin Thicke, "Tie My Hands"
When Lil Wayne finally got a chance to tackle Katrina on Tha Carter III, he went in. Weezy sets his drink aside and bares his soul for five minutes, while your favorite rapper's favorite white boy rides shotgun. He starts by examining the scars of Katrina's aftermath. "My whole city under water, some people still floating," he laments. By the third verse, he's offering words of comfort to survivors: "And if you come from under that water, then that's fresh air. Just breathe, baby, God's got a blessing to spare." Preach.