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Did Black Thought Invent Mumble Rap?

Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the longtime frontman for The Roots, will go down in infamy for his blistering 10-minute bar display on Funkmaster Flex’s program that people are still talking about. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Philadelphia wordsmith says he’s essentially responsible for the practice of so-called “mumble rap” and makes a strong case by saying so.

From Rolling Stone:

There’s a line in your rap where you say, “Can’t explain what these lame kids are talkin’ ’bout.” There are folks debating that line. Did you call out the current generation of rappers?

Yeah, I mean, some of the current generation, the ones who are lame. 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.” 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. … [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.

Check out the rest of the interview here. Definitely a solid read. And for cultural purposes, we’ve shared the freestyle and songs Black Thought mentioned below.

Photo: Getty

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