Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Invictus

Kanye West’s “Bring Me Down” features the lines:

If you ever wanted to ever be anything,
There’d always be somebody that’d shoot down any dream.

Despite such cynicism, West goes on a couple lines later to rap:

But they goin’ have to take my life before they take my drive
‘Cause when I was barely living that’s what kept me alive.
Just the thought that it could be better than where we at at this time,
Make it out of this grind before I’m out of my mind.

While it would be hard to argue that hip hop music brings out the best qualities in humanity, one uplifting theme prevalent in a lot of these songs is confidence and strength in the face of adversity. Eminem knows that life is difficult in his trailer park on the outskirts of Detroit, but in the song “8 Mile,” he has the confidence to believe that he can find a way out of the situation.

Ain’t goin’ to follow no footsteps, I’m making my own.
Only way that I know how to escape from this 8 Mile Road.

William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” is a poem about strength in the face of adversity and ends with the lines:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scrolls,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

In an apparent nod to Henley and Frost, Jay Z finishes his rhymes in “Renegade” by proclaiming:

Just know I chose my own fate.
I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

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