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Black Thought breaks down how he invented "mumble rap" earlier on in his career

KC Orcutt

 // Dec 28, 2017

Black Thought is a clear winner of 2017, with his recent 10-minute Funk Flex freestyle undeniably making hip-hop history and standing out as one of the most memorable moments of the entire year.

During a recent sit-down with Rolling Stone, the Roots co-founder breaks down what he meant by the line, "Can't explain what these lame kids are talkin' 'bout,"—something that many interpreted to be an authoritative diss toward the new generation of rappers.

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Per Black Thought, that was not his full intention at all. Instead, he explains that the ever-popular style of "mumble rap" does not irk him, like it may other rappers from his generation, but instead brings him back to the days where he himself pioneered the non-lyrical driven approach.

"Yeah, I mean, some of the current generation, the ones who are lame," he begins, addressing the line specifically. "There are some millennial artists that I totally get and understand, and I know what they're talking about. People who I've worked with and who I'd like to work with. But there's a whole element of artists that I can't explain what they're talking about. And it's not just because of their stylistic approach with the whole 'mumble rap.'"

He then discusses how he noticed the onslaught of responses following his freestyle, during which many cheered him on for "dismissing" the current chart-dominating style of mumble rap.

"Lots of people are saying that I shut down mumble rap in one 10-minute setting," Black Thought continues. "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. … [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."

Elsewhere throughout the interview, Black Thought discusses the now-viral freestyle in-depth, as well as touches on where he feels hip-hop culture is today, sharing gem after gem along the way.

Check out Black Thought's conversation with Rolling Stone in full, here.

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