Black Thought Talks His Freestyle Going Viral & Inventing Mumble Rap
Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)
(AllHipHop News) For the uninitiated, Black Thought's 10-minute freestyle on Hot 97 was an introduction to the undeniable emceeing skills of The Roots rapper. However, fans of the Philadelphia band have known for years the man born Tariq Trotter is a beast on the mic.
Rolling Stone spoke with Black Thought after his improvised/pre-written verbal display went viral. The Grammy winner was asked why he thinks this particular rap session - which Diddy called "the greatest freestyle in all of Hip Hop history" - spread across the web so quickly.
"We're at a point in history where lyricism almost comes last in very many regards. So for someone from my school, who has come from the ilk of lyricism being held in far higher regard, it brings a different sort of urgency to every performance," stated Black Thought. "That's what I went into that Flex freestyle with, with that same urgency that I had when I was a young person coming to New York from Philly with very much to prove."
He continued, "I think people had almost forgotten. Maybe not forgotten, but people had given up hope that someone out there was still around who is doing it the way we had done it... I mean, I'm not like a unicorn. There are very many artists who make those sorts of beats, and write and record those sorts of lyrics and performances, and carry that same cadence. But they don't necessarily have the same sort of platform [that I have]."
The freestyle was seen by some observers as a direct counterweight to the rise of "mumble rap." Black Thought made it clear he was not purposely trying to deflate that contemporary sub-genre.
"Lots of people are saying that I shut down mumble rap in one 10-minute setting. But that wasn't my intention, because mumble rap – if we go back – that's something I invented. I invented rapping without actually using the words," explained Thought. "[W]ith songs like 'Don't Say Nuthin',' freestyles like 'New Year's At Jay Dee's,' I essentially invented mumble rap, where you go for many bars without saying any words. And when I did it, it came from a place of being inspired by scatting."
Read Black Thought's full Rolling Stone interview at the link below.