Earsnag: “Crooked Smile” by J. Cole

“We ain’t picture perfect, but we worth the picture still.”

“Crooked Smile” is undoubtedly, one of the best modern hip-hop songs I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Let’s face it, the lyrics of most rap tracks are solely centered on women, money, parties and drugs. I don’t know about you, but I feel that those topics have been exhausted over the past 10 years. Not to sound cliché, but what happened to meaningful poetry?

Which is exactly why “Crooked Smile” is a gem of a piece — it’s poetry. And mad respect for Mr. Cole himself, as he graduated from St. John’s University Magna cum Laude, with a major in communications and a minor in business. I commend a musician who’s educated.

I’m constantly checking the iTunes Top 100 to see if “Crooked Smile” has been appreciated by the masses yet but oddly, it hasn’t. It is on the iTunes Hip-Hop Top 100, though. I find it surprising that it hasn’t essentially “made it” yet (I predict that it will. You totally heard this from me first).

It even features TLC, the hit 90s R&B group best known for their knockout “Waterfalls.” TLC’s part in “Crooked Smile” is a blast from the past (in a good way).

And ladies, this segment of the song in particular is for you: Oh, you a woman? I don’t know how you deal with all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels. I feel for you, killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you.

Damn, Cole is on point. Killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you is what hit me the hardest, because it’s so … true. I think the majority of women feel that they’re not attractive au naturel, and so they go to extremes to obtain that American idea of beauty: flawless skin and hair, eyes that pop, a tiny waist, big chest.

You wake up, put makeup on. Stare in the mirror but it’s clear that you can’t face what’s wrong.

These lines remind me of a girl in one of my classes who I’ve noticed is always wearing fake eyelashes. She has beautiful features, and the lashes don’t enhance them in any way. In fact, they just look a little silly. It makes me sad that she feels the need to wear them.

We need to love ourselves as we are. This is the simple yet infinitely valuable message Cole is conveying. It’s the most important thing we’ll ever do for ourselves. Because you know what? It’s okay to have a crooked smile. In his words, No need to fix what God already put his paintbrush on.

Check out J. Cole’s album, Born Sinner, available on iTunes