“Knock knock. Who’s there? My mixtape. Listen to it.”
For many looking in from the outside, the emergence of trap music in popular culture has signaled a decline in what many consider “conscious” or “intelligent” rap. If this is your first time hearing about “trap” music, it’s a genre of music that originated from Southern hip-hop that uses layered kick drums and layered synthesizers, which has been made popular by artists like Future, Travis Scott, and Lil’ Yachty.
While much of trap music glorifies high spending, drug use, promiscuity and all the things we don’t want to “teach our children” – these topics have been part of rap for a hot minute. We conflate mumble rap, trap artists and rappers who don’t (or can’t) freestyle with being uneducated in the rap cannon and undeserving of their fame.
Take a quick peek at Twitter, for example, and you’ll see there is no shortage of people proclaiming how “dumb” Cardi B is, among many other disparaging remarks. Her hit “Bodak Yellow” is very much a trap song, but it also feels very New York.
But time and time again, youth continue to coalesce around the music of the time. Remember when rock and roll was the devil? Or how about when everyone wanted Disco music to die? Or better yet, remember when Ray Charles threw romantic lyrics on a gospel tune and it was considered blasphemy?
Well, the same thing is happening with trap.
Cardi B graces the cover of this month’s “New York Magazine” and in an interview with their sister site, Vulture, she let us know how smart of a hustler she actually is.
Growing up in the Golden Age of gangster rap, I listened to the legends. I witnessed the Tupac and Biggie beef, then Jay-Z and Nas, then Fifty Cent and Eminem against literally everybody else. I’ve seen at least 20 years of hip hop, grow, change and morph.
What we have now are artist like Migos, who many will say, “well they mumble and I don’t know what they’re talking about, so they’re dumb and therefore bad.” But Migos is one of the biggest rap groups of the last several years, grandpa. And, in my opinion, a force that will only continue to grow.
What you find in this musical evolution, is that artists who work hard enough and are sharp, will not only make catchy music, but will tap into the zeitgeist of the moment. These artists have always been smarter than we give them credit for, especially at the height of their popularity.
I mean, just look back at anything Tupac said. I’ll wait…
Cardi B shows that not only is she talented and hard working, but smart and that’s been the killer combination for her.
In the interview Cardi B lays out with detail how it took her years to become an overnight success. She talks about all the important things that we all kind-of, sort-of know about success and how to achieve it. The one big difference for Cardi B: she did it and stuck to it. It’s easy to say rappers, especially the ones of the moment, are “dumb,” but to hear Cardi B explain it, is to prove that assumption entirely all wrong.
Cardi B is an artist who knew her potential and used common sense, good judgement, and hard work to see it through.
She can rap about whatever she wants in my book. Mumble, twerk, make up words (Bodak?) whatever. At the end of the day, she’s out there making money moves, and we’re all out here buying.
Who’s dumb now?