5 Hip-Hop Songs About Food
It might not seem like it, but hip-hop has been a force in music since the mid-to-late 70s now, and a genre that currently holds between 13-15 of the top 20 spots (depending on how you look at it). This is all to say that hip-hop has shifted dramatically from social movement to social norm and one that captivates a particularly wide audience. The genre is incredibly dynamic, moving between uptempo party songs to thoughtful pieces of pop culture ephemera. That makes hip-hop an ideal option for neuromarketing –a marketing technique that engages your senses to motivate your actions– in your restaurant. By playing hip-hop songs about food, you can create a fun, upbeat environment for your guests, while subtly encouraging their hunger for more.
How We Chose Our Hip Hop Songs About Food
Like our list of songs about restaurants, mileage varies on your audience, so the selected songs presented here are PG. That means family-friendly, with little to no allusions to the tropes often associated with the genre. These are both literally and figuratively hip-hop songs about food, set to a beat that demands you nod along, and sure to bring a smile to your guests’ faces.
Beastie Boys – Egg Man
Featuring three of the best emcees that have ever lived, The Beastie Boys made their mark early on as a party rock band, before breaking new ground in hip-hop on albums like Check Your Head or Ill Communication. Egg Man marks an early highpoint for the band, a silly song about pranking suckas by egging them. While this isn’t expressly about eating food, it does expressly bring up eggs in a variety of forms throughout the track, making it an ideal pairing for a commercial about an egg-related special, or just a great entry into a breakfast-themed playlist.
Keep in mind that from a marketing perspective, people often misinterpret songs, sometimes to famously inaccurate degrees. Furthermore, this track maintains a steady 116 beats per minute (BPM) standard throughout, which is the perfect timing for eating. Put this on in the background, maybe on a patio on a nice breezy morning, and set the mood.
Talib Kweli – Eat To Live
By far the most figurative track on this list, rapper Talib Kweli uses “food” as an analogy here about the struggles to stay afloat against the challenges of the world. A member of seminal hip-hop duo Black Star, Kweli is known for his socially conscious lyricism, and jazz-inflected beats. With “Eat To Live,” Kweli offers up a low-key tune ideal for a contemplative date. While the subject matter here is heavy –survival against the odds– the primary message is heavily food-centric. When Kweli rhymes, “We gotta feed the kids, they gotta eat to live,” he’s issuing a relatable statement about always encouraging the best in everyone.
Restaurateurs and restaurant staff alike can relate to that message, given the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic that has left unemployed and with an uncertain future. But Kweli’s thesis with “Eat To Live,” offers a ray of hope for a better tomorrow, that together we can get through this. Play this track during the quieter times of the day.
A Tribe Called Quest – Ham ‘N’ Eggs
With “Ham ‘N’ Eggs,” A Tribe Called Quest served up a PG-rated rap song by one of the greatest hip-hop acts of the Golden Age (and any, for that matter). Rhymed to their traditional jazz-funk inspired beat, Tribe reflects on healthy eating, eschewing ham, and eggs for healthier food choices. Each rapper in the collective connects to their preferred dish, whether that’s splurging on a turkey dog or collard greens and the occasional steak, there is a camaraderie to the group that makes this fun and light-hearted, the perfect accompaniment to a good time.
Drop this beat throughout National Salad Month, and promote options for your diet savvy guests.
The Fat Boys – All You Can Eat
By virtually every measure, it feels irresponsible to leave The Fat Boys out of this mix. A rap trio that made their mark in the ’80s, The Fat Boys tell you who they are in their name. As such, many of their songs are about food or eating, with “All You Can Eat” standing out among their oeuvre. On this song, the trio wax poetic about buffets, and the tactile pleasure of sampling a variety of foods for one convenient price.
While buffets may seem anachronistic as we continue our social distancing efforts into the foreseeable future, this Fat Boys classic will go down as a nostalgic reminder of simpler times, less anxiety-ridden times. The video for this track has an epic history and serves as an early foray into the relationship between hip-hop and food. Likewise, the Fat Boys played the role of cultural ambassadors in the nascent rap scene, by offering up their playful rhymes about the same joy of eating that so many enjoy.
Put this on blast when in-house traffic resumes to brick and mortars to set the expectation that happier, safer times have returned.
McEnroe – Cereal For Dinner
Clever wordplay and turns of phrase are the hallmarks of a quality emcee, and rapper McEnroe displays those qualities in his ode to youthful cravings, “Cereal For Dinner.” By referencing things like Super Mario and The Smiths, McEnroe earns his cred as a nerdcore rapper who isn’t shy about dropping references, all in service to his overall Peter Pan-Esque narrative of vegging out and giving in. The music takes on a Cool Calm Pete vibe, which is as the name implies, both cool and calm.
Picture this song played at a David Chang restaurant, where cereal milk is a common ingredient, or at a “breakfast for dinner” spot. Don’t forget that a lot of Americans prefer breakfast for dinner, so play this if and when you offer specials on night time con huevos.
Hip-hop has a storied history and one that often skirts or directly confronts heavy topics. While that may not seem ideal in a restaurant setting, there are many positives to glean from the genre, from the many references to food or eating, to the imminently danceable beats. Choose your songs to parallel your clientele, as there are so many hip-hop songs about food to pull from, and enliven your guests.
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. At home, like the rest of the world right now, he’s finding time to play with the kids and create art.