For the past two years, the delta between fans of traditional, "real" hip-hop and fans of mumble/cloud/lo-fi rap has grown to a sizeable margin.
In a very matter-of-fact manner, many of these "heads" have requested that new generational artists get the hell off their proverbial lawn—or, at a minimum, stop calling what they're doing "hip-hop"—because of the belief that, you know, they aren't actually rapping. Oh, and also because they're ruining hip-hop—as if any one artist, group of artists, region or trend could be the downfall of an entire genre of music.
But here's the thing: Many of these artistscan actually spit but simply choose not to because of the perception that their fan base isn't interested in hearing a record that features nothing but bars—a perception that happens to be based in reality.
For example, take Canton, Ohio rapper Trippie Redd. In May, the 18-year-old released a free "mixtape" on SoundCloud entitled A Love Letter To You, which, to date, has racked up millions of plays. However, out of the project's 12 tracks, the least-streamed record (by a sizeable number of plays), "Can You Rap Like Me?", happens to also be the most "real."
Have a listen:
In May, while in Miami for Rolling Loud, Redd sat down for an interview with Pigeons & Planes, and during their conversation, he was directly asked to address "traditional" hip-hop fans in an effort to explain why he makes the music that he does.
"I do that, I make real hip-hop," said Redd. "[But] it's literally the song with the least amount of plays. But the most amount of bars. It's literally the most intelligent song I have on my tape, with the least amount of views. I just want that to be known... I had so much lyrical wordplay in that song, and nobody gave me credit [for it]."
To date, "Can You Rap Like Me?" has been streamed 514k times on Redd's official SoundCloud account, which is almost half the number of plays the next lowest record, "Limitless," has earned (921k).
Redd is right. His most "real" hip-hop record is "literally" the one that has been played the least. (Although, it is important to note that the last track on any SoundCloud set is traditionally the lowest streamed.)
Look, nobody is going to mistake Trippe Redd for Rakim, and we aren't exactly talking lyrical miracles, but the rapper made a smart decision to choose a lane that, by surveying the market, he's already predetermined will be fruitful.
That mask Redd is wearing in the interview might look dumb, but he's no Dumbo. Word to Jay.