Rap Faux Pas’

Rap Faux Pas’ in 2017 does any such thing exist?

With the rise of Grime we are also seeing the uprise of U.K rap.

Giggs and Mist recently featured on Vlad TV. Seeing them on that platform prompted me to analyse them both. I found quite a few parallels, but one in particular struck a chord with me. Mist and Giggs both have distinct stylistic traits that have set them apart, but these traits seem to intertwine with some unwritten rap no no’s.

As a young aspiring MC. I had no Guru to show me the way, there was no man of method to teach me. I learnt the craft on my own, sponging from rappers like Guru from Gang Starr and Method Man from the Mighty Wu. I think it’s still that way today for new rappers not in a crew.

(most people have a problem with nonchalant attitudes and lack of homage some new age rappers exhibit and the perception that the art form isn’t as important as the financial rewards of being a successful rapper)

I don’t remember ever being told any rules specifically, but I know that repetition in hip hop (not grime) is frowned upon. Mist has a knack for creating Karaoke quotes, his double take punchlines are incredibly difficult not to sing along to. Simplicity in flow and delivery isn’t always a bad thing, but for rappers to reach the upper echelon there is a sophistication and poetic prowess required, which I don’t believe Mist doesn’t possess but hasn’t significantly displayed thus far.

Giggs has a cool, charismatic, un-rushed delivery which to some may seem lethargic and sluggish. Others will see this as swagger or a masterful way of allowing the listener to digest each bar. Wretch 32 exhibits a similar phraseology in his prose on the first half of Open Conversation & Mark Duggan. Every pause is essential to the emotive canvas.

In 2009 the guardian wrote “Like Jeezy, he is known for his ad-libs (Giggs’s most famous example can only be described as a constipated grunt) and his extremely laidback flow. In fact, Giggs sounds so nonchalant you think he might nod off at any second. Actually, I think if I listened to a whole album of his stuff I’d probably nod off towards the end. There is something strangely compelling about him, though.” – (I know it is the guardian… but you get the point)

I must point out that Giggs does occasionally display dynamic flows, like on Kano’s 3 Wheel Ups. The brimmingly blaring brass and bulky bass lines from the Swifta Beater produced beat may have had something to do with the stylistic change but nonetheless Giggs shows pacy and direct intent, as he attacks the beat.

Looking further a field, Drake’s collaborative approach to writing has been frowned upon, thus snatching some of his credibility away from him (mostly from his peers) but it seems to have been forgiven.

Rappers singing, rappers not writing all their raps, rappers mumbling… Is this the generation that will be known for liberating the art form, breaking down boundaries and conventions, going against the grain? Or the generation that decimated the real art of rapping, introducing new norms and toppling the monuments of legends past?

To most these questions will sound a bit over the top but to Hip Hop heads around the world these are real dilemmas. This piece in itself is an example, in a scenario where I should have been gassed about two U.K acts getting international exposure I ended up analysing them. In an era where rap can be accused of losing its way, fans have never been more critical.

One thing I can say is, the Archetype of what we know a rapper to be has evolved and changed; the motifs surrounding the genre transformed. Sub genres have blossomed and the DNA of ‘The Rapper’ has found new strands.

Rap is an art form, it’s a source of entertainment and a musical genre. We must remember rap is all those things and it is part of a culture that is bigger than lyrics and melodies, held in such high regard by its founders, by its followers and by its participants.

So, as the rap game pivots from what once was. Wincing at fumbles, whining at every faux pas, critiquing and complaining will never stop but it’s the divine right of the new school to be respectful but unapologetic in their journey.

We just have to sit back and watch where that journey takes us.


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