The year is 1597. You’re in the renaissance era of Italy and all of a sudden your ears perk up to something you’ve never heard before. The majestic sound of incomprehensible words that just flowed together so beautifully, it caught you in a trance. This was the discovery of opera.
Now fast forward to 2016. You pull up SoundCloud and you see a new song by an artist named “Playboi Carti.” You press play and you experience an overwhelming amount of emotion. The genetic history in your DNA going crazy relieving the euphoria your ancestors must have felt when they first heard opera. Now when I experienced this, I couldn’t understand a single word being said, but what I felt was unmatched by and different from any other musical genre I had come across.
About a week ago (week agooooo) I pulled out Shawshank Redemption from my movie collection and popped it in. During one of my favorite scenes when Tim Robbins locks himself in the warden’s office and begins playing the opera music over the prison speakers, Morgan Freeman (in true Morgan Freeman fashion) delivers an amazing monologue over the scene where he says “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singin’ about. Truth is I don’t wanna know. I’d like to think they were singin’ about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words.” When I heard this again, it sparked an epiphany in my mind. That today’s mumble rap is exactly what opera was 400 years ago.
In operatic singing, the most important thing is the sound and not about the words being said. In fact, a lot of opera singers don’t even know what they are saying at all. It’s for the exact reason that Morgan Freeman explained in Shawshank, that the articulation of sound is what makes the listener feel what it is they feel, not the words.
Now I am a huge Playboi Carti fan, but I think we can all admit lyricism is not his forte. Other artists I like to throw in this group are guys like Comethazine, Lil Pump, and Smokepurpp where about 70% of their lyrics are made up of either “Yeah”, “Ooh”, or “Aye.” BUT, here’s the thing. I’m not complaining! People today love to trash on these upcoming rappers for their lack of lyricism like lyricism was even apart of the origin of music or like there’s some type of set of rules and requirements that come with making music. The only conclusion I can come to when it comes to old heads and people hating on mumble rap is that they’re completely ignorant to the fact that history repeats itself.
We see history repeat itself in every way; trends, fashion, politics, and even music. When I listen to hip-hop, I specifically love listening to artists like the ones I mentioned above. Obviously not for the thought-provoking lyricism, but for the unexplainable feeling I get when I listen to it. Kendrick could literally orchestrate the most beautiful musical re-telling of the Bible and I would still probably not feel half as affected as I would when I hear Lil Pump screaming “D Rose” at me.
The mood and vibe that is brought to life from a lot of rappers like Carti and Smokepurpp is something that no one could do with words. Seriously, go listen to “Piped Up” by Comethazine right now and try to not break out at least one dab. Now, there is absolutely a time and place for lyrical and deep music and there’s lot of genres I’d honestly personally go to over hip-hop for substance. But, to think that all music must carry deep lyricism is ignorant. I’d also be willing to bet that those same atrociously pompous individuals who have all this distaste for mumble rap, probably have great admiration for opera music, although it’s most likely a façade to look more musically intelligent. But why in the hell would they? There’s no meaningful lyricism, hell there’s not even any real words or lyrics being said! The operatic drones of nonsensical words from Italian women in the 1600’s played the same role as Carti today when he belts out lyrics like “Shawty bih look like a bih.” I have absolutely no fucking idea what that means, but my goodness does it get my hype.
So, next time you hear Carti or Purpp drop 16 on a song and 12 of those bars are made up with only “Ooh’s”, pay more attention to the mood and feeling that is being derived from them saying that and not what they’re actually saying. Because, guess what. It’s pretty fuckin lit.
- Young Gosling (@youngxgosling)