An Exploration of Financial Independence Through Hip-Hop/R&B Lyrics

Hip Hop and Financial Independence

Music and Financial Independence

When you listen to music, does your mind drift off to thinking about financial independence?  I know this may sound crazy, but mine does. And the minds of the bloggers who contributed to my financial independence hip-hop playlist.

If you are not a personal finance enthusiast, I am sure you probably do not see the connection between your musical playlist and the pursuit of FI.

But, since I am a self-proclaimed personal finance addict, I do!  I promise to show you how the two are connected by reinterpreting some of the lyrics.  Some of the key concepts we will explore are drifting, the power of belief, and deliberate practice.

The majority of the song lyrics we will analyze will be from the Hip-Hop/R&B genre, but since I have an eclectic taste in music, I’ll sneak in one or two songs from other genres to make our exploration flow as smoothly as possible :-).

Let’s begin by exploring this concept of drifting.  To do this, we will take a look at Ottis Retting’s hit song Sitting On the Dock of the Bay.

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay


Let me put on my wireless earbuds and put the volume on full blast (do this at your own risk)!  The lyrics that catch my attention are:

I left my home in Georgia
And I headed for the Frisco Bay
‘Cause I’ve got nothin’ to live for
Looks like nothin’s gonna come my way, so
I’m just come sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time
When I listened to this Ottis Retting track, I think about a guy who has hit rock bottom in life and believes nothing good will come his way.  As someone who has been broke phi broke before, I can definitely relate.  During this dark period in my life, I thought nothing good would come my way.  I had nothing to live for.


Instead of taking action to change things, I became somewhat of a drifter.  A drifter, according to Napoleon Hill in Outwitting the Devil, is “one who accepts whatever life throws his way without making a protest or putting up a fight.  He doesn’t know what he wants in life and spends all his time getting just that.
I say somewhat of a drifter because I initially put up a fight, but then decided the effort was not worth it, since I did not get the results I was hoping for.
To achieve financial independence, one cannot go through life being a drifter.  He or she must set goals and take action.  They must listen to Financial Samurai’s advice and be unapologetically fierce about pursuing their dreams
This person must have can’t stop believing in themselves.  Before moving on, let’s take a commercial break (Sorry, I cancelled my Spotify subscription).
*Fun Fact Commercial*

While doing some research about how this song was made, I learned that Ottis Retting got the inspiration for this one from listening to the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Unfortunately, Otis was killed in a plane crash a month before the song’s official release.

Okay, the commercial is over.  Let’s get back to the next topic…

Don’t Stop Believing

This next track by the band Journey is one of my favorite songs.  Let me hit play for you.  It begins, “Just a small town girl/ Living in a lonely world/ She took the midnight train/ Going anywhere…”  Killer intro but the part I love is repeated three times at the end.

don’t stop believin’
hold on to the feelin’
streetlight people

Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset


After not seeing any results from my efforts, I adopted a scarcity mindset.  I believed opportunities were simply not available to me.  They were only available to the lucky ones.  You know, those folks who have all the right connections.  My belief was that life was unfair and I would have to float in the sea of mediocrity for the rest of my life.

Although none of this was true, I believed it.  I could not see the opportunities Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied would open up to me because I was blinded by this scarcity mindset.  Now that I have adopted an abundance mindset, I can see opportunities all around me.


Like Mr. Horatio, I have become cognizant that many of these opportunities come disguised as problems.  He saw that there were no healthy food options and coffee shops in the community, and he decided to do something about it.  That’s why I had to feature him in my story about growing up in the ghetto.

Back when Martin Luther King Jr. was living, having an abundance mindset simply wasn’t enough.  People were systematically denied learning opportunities (this is still true in some countries).  Today no one can stop me from learning in-demand skills on the internet.

In my mind, there are an abundance of opportunities available to me, and I just have to take advantage of them.

I was once blind, but now I see.  My mindset currently is more similar to one of my favorite artist 6lack.  He explains on his mindset on his song Rules.

Rules for Success

Rule number one no explaining
Rule number two no complaining
10, 000 hours like it’s nothing
I take my hardest times and turn ’em into something

Instead of complaining about the lack of opportunity, 6lack decides to turn his hardest times into something.  He does this by applying the concept of deliberate practice to master his craft.

Deliberate Practice

In his book Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson explore how the concept of deliberate practice can be used to master a certain skill.  Deliberate practice, unlike regular practice, is practice with a purpose.  There are so many different fascinating stories in this book.  One that stands out to me is an experiment where he trains a man to remember more than 100 digits.

How in the world does someone remember that many digits?  Must he or she be a member of the Illuminati?  Nope.  The answer is deliberate practice.

When learning about this concept, images popped into my head of Nina Simone practicing the piano for countless hours.  Michael Jackson being forced by his father to practice his dance moves until he got them perfect.  You see, deliberate practice requires feedback.

The same type of feedback I received when my mom forced me to look up words in the dictionary I did not know after writing summaries of articles.  Using the power of deliberate practice is the secret sauce to achieving financial independence sooner rather than later.  How so?

In-Demand Skills

I believe you can increase your income through the use of deliberate practice.  My friend Erik from the Mastermind Within recently wrote this highly informative article called 5 Side Hustle Ideas to Make Money This Year.

The five side hustles he recommends are:

  • Website Developer
  • Bookkeeping
  • Social Media Management
  • Small Business Content Management
  • Graphic Design (My coworker’s side hustle 🙂

All of his recommendations require you to possess these skills already or learn them through the strategic use of deliberate practice.

Now that we have discussed all of the topics I mentioned in the introduction, that’s a wrap, folks!  Time to put my phone away.  My data is limited now (2 GB a/month), and I am moving outside of my WiFi’s range…


I hope that I have convinced you that there is a connection between listening to your favorite songs and your journey to financial independence.  If not, I at least hope you have enjoyed some of the lyrics.

Don’t stay in drift mode too long.  Don’t stop believing.  And use the power of deliberate practice to gain those in-demand skills!  Best of luck to you on your journey.

Community Feedback

  • Do you think of financial independence when listening to your favorite songs?  If so, how are they connected?
  • Tell us about a time where you have used the power of deliberate practice to master a new skill
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Author: Jerry

Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.

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12 thoughts on “An Exploration of Financial Independence Through Hip-Hop/R&B Lyrics

  1. I am a musician (who obviously loves music) and a personal finance lover. My middle school students sing “Don’t Stop Believing” all the time. That song has staying power! I constantly think about the power of music to help people find meaning in life. I definitely notice lyrics and connect them to FI. In fact, I am working on a post about this right now (and luckily you took a completely different angle:) I will continue to write mine… Take care!

    1. Hello Savvy, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Wow, that’s awesome! What musical instruments do you know how to play?

      I have always wanted to learn how to play an instrument but never took the time to put in the time necessary to master one.

      Looking forward to reading your article.

  2. This is great! I am a singer and also love finance and real estate!! I find music to be such great motivation. Unfortunately not everyone pays attention to the words in the music they listen to. I find myself often giving friends an understanding of the lyrics so they can see music the way I do. One song can change your whole day!!!
    Tara@Sparkrental recently posted…Renting to College Students 101: Pros, Cons, & What Landlords Need to KnowMy Profile

    1. Hello Tara,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! What type of music do you create!? Where can I listen to it?

      You are correct about not everyone listening to the lyrics. Some people just love a song because of the beat.

      I hope you enjoy the rest of your week 🙂


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