Black Thought Says He "Essentially Invented" Mumble Rap

“I think hip-hop, the culture, is at a crossroads right now.”

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Black Thought’s 10-minute freestyle went viral when it released and now The Roots co-founder has followed up by giving an interview to Rolling Stone about the state of hip-hop as a whole and how the freestyle came about.

On the state of hip-hop:

“I think hip-hop, the culture, is at a crossroads right now, and there’s not very much that people who are older than millennials have to identify with. There isn’t much that’s reaching the mainstream that is hip-hop in the sense that people my age know it as, if that makes any sense. The game has changed. It’s different. The standards are different, the criteria that’s taken into consideration in determining validity is different. 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.”

On mumble rap:

“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. With 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.”

Black Thought last spoke to Jimmy Fallon about the session on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In case you haven’t seen the viral freestyle yet, however, the video is embedded below.

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