New York rapper Marlon Craft writes a moving love letter to his son on "Loved."

Men have been getting a lot of bad press in the last 10 years. It seems like "masculinity" is, more often than not, predicated by some sort of negative adjective. It can leave men and boys in a strange place, knowing what they're not supposed to do but a little uncertain on how to be.

Even though this confusion raises some uncomfortable, sometimes unpleasant conversations, it's actually a good thing. The uncomfortability are growing pains, as we broaden the often lethally constricting "man box," which chokes the life out of many who come into contact with it, both inside and outside of its claustrophobic confines. It's opening the way for a broader, more inclusive, more accepting form of manhood.

The term "positive masculinity" started gathering some momentum with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, whose lead character, Newt Scamander illustrates a form of masculinity that can be tough and caring. Something that fatherhood calls for in spades.

"Loved" is the newest single from New York rapper Marlon Craft's newest EP, Workfromhome. It's an open letter to his son, where he opens up about his hopes, his fears, his dreams and visions for his future. He also talks about how having a son has changed him, giving him a new lease on life, a new determination and drive to be a better person.



Hip-hop really, really needs some positive masculinity. Even decades into long, drawn-out conversations around gender, a very large percentage of men rappers are still hung up on rapping about money, women, and violence. While there's nothing wrong with these topics, either, there is more to being a man than racking up notches and stacking paper. It also opens the way for some more musical diversity. "Loved" is downright smooth and, dare we say it, almost sweet with its piano and harp samples. The beat is mellow but driving, making this perfect for pretty much any playlist that needs a chill vibe and a dose of positivity.

We Are: The Guard would really like to see/hear more music like this, that both broadens the sonic pallet and broadcasts some positive representation of how to be a decent man. We also hope Marlon Craft gets a broader audience. We need more uplifting voices and good vibes right about now.

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J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.