I got into hip hop mainly because I always was way more concerned with the lyrics than the actual music. Which is essentially blasphemy to most people I know. I can't listen to a song if I don't like the lyrics. GOOD rap has lyrics that took thought and skill to come up with and are put to a great beat. My favorite artist is Sage Francis. I also like Talib Kweli (absolutely love Hostile Gospel) and some of Jay-Z's stuff. Jay-Z has a lot more mainstream sounding songs that aren't very good.
The song Drop Base by Safe Francis, featuring Vocab, is pretty good if you don't like rap, it criticizes parts of the genre. Slow Down Ghandi is pretty interesting, like punk rap.
The Next Testament has one of my favorite openings to a song ever.
"Find God exclaimed the man who lost everything he owned
Looking stoned I groaned back FIND A JOB"
The references to drug use in some of his songs is funny because he's a straight edger :B.
For a nerd like me Sage Francis' songs are perfect, there's lots of insecurities, self-doubt, and awareness of self-contradiction but there's also the pride in what's been accomplished and small hints of the arrogance everyone has at some level, that goes hand and hand with the self-promotion in rap.
I did a quick search and didn't see this posted but considering this is xkcd this seemed perfect, though it's kind of old.http://www.aclevercookie.com/rap-lyrics ... nd-graphs/
Obviously it's rap lyrics explained graphically, awesome.