Hip-Hop Econ

lil dicky

I grew up in the 90’s, when music was more than a hot beat and catchy hook. Music was an expression and often communicated social and economic issues. I remember walking down the hallways of my high school carrying my Walkman and a bag pack filled with tapes.  Artist like 2pac, Jay-Z, Public Enemy, a Tribe Called Quest, Dre, Ice Cube, OutKast, NWA, Biggie and Wu-tang shaped my views on life, culture, social problems and economics.

I am a long ways from high school but music still plays an important role in my life. As an economics professor, and an advocate for teaching economics using media and pop culture, it is hard for me to listen to music today and not see the connection to economics.  If I had a “dream” class to teach it would be “Hip-Hop Economics: Teaching Economics Through Music”.  Given that I probably won’t have the opportunity to teach that class anytime soon I thought I’d share some songs here.

The first song is one that was recommended to me by a former student through Twitter.

Garret tweet


I have already used “$ave Dat Money” by Lil Dicky in Principles of Macroeconomics to discuss Time Preferences and the Loanable Funds Market . Clean version here


but like all songs, the explicit version is better.


The song discusses how Lil Dicky is different than the traditional rapper such that he is more interested in

“ saving money as supposed to spending it”

This line provides a great discussion on consumption smoothing.

The song is a collection of examples of how he saves money.

“ Im a type of ***explicit*** that’ll check the check do the math, I aint never getting robbed.Those Margaritas not goin’ on my card.I ain’t about to split a damn thing for convenience sake.”

Is an example of the inefficiencies associated with splitting checks. Read the Five Thirty Eight article about splitting checks.


“Book flight December but I leave in MayDrugs are generic but still work the same”

Its cheaper to buy tickets when booked in advance 

It is possible to save by buying generic drugs. Freakonomics has a good podcast about this.

“ Im in Cali, Why the **** my company in Delaware?”

The incentive of incorporating in Delaware due to its favorable tax treatment of corporations.

There are more ways to use this song in economic classes.  Take a listen and tell me if you find any other Econ concepts.

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