Earlier this month, The Roots lead rapper, Black Thought, left Funkmaster Flex and the rest of the rap world in awe after he murdered a 10-minute freestyle during a trip to Hot 97. The clip surpassed over 2 million views in a mere two weeks, and proved exactly why Black Thought should be on everyone’s top rapper list.
Feeding off the hype of the video, Black Thought sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about the state of rap, the videos reception, and hip-hop’s current landscape.
“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,” Thought told the publication, describing the current state of hip-hop. “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.”
The 10-minute freestyle is being considered a breath of fresh air amongst hip-hop heads, who tend to frown upon this era of mumble rap. But the rapper has a surprisingly different perspective on the new generation.
“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,” Thought contended. “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.”
So, there it is. All of you old heads who complain about the current state of rap, you have Black Thought to blame. To read the full piece, head over to Rolling Stone.
Check out Black Thought’s astonishing 10-minute Hot 97 Freestyle.