Authors: Duke Denham & Maxwell Slade
Header Photo courtesy of Rap-Up.
Most hip-hop fans—if not all—are familiar with the term “mumble rap.” It’s ubiquitous in contemporary rap and has been endlessly criticized for its rudimentary nature. Regardless, a few of these rappers have rose above the rest, pushing their names onto the charts and receiving cosigns from older rappers. These successful rappers understand what makes “mumble rap” so enticing and strip back their music to the most infectious elements. A prime example of this is Playboi Carti from Atlanta, the birthplace of “mumble rap.”
Associated with A$AP Mob’s AWGE label, Carti has managed to distinguish himself from the sea of mumble rappers with his ability to lace bouncy trap beats with sticky flows and a laidback charisma. Although Carti’s lyrics usually revolve around typical rap topics like girls, cars, money, and jewelry, his music pulls people in with its delivery. Ever since SoundCloud hits such as “Broke Boi,” Carti has captivated fans with his high-pitched staccato flows that reflect his easy going yet lively personality. He’s also infamous for his adlibs. At times, multiple layers of adlibs are stacked onto each other to maintain the momentum and energy of a song.
Concealed behind his raps, Playboi Carti’s secret weapon is his main producer, Pi’erre Bourne. Chances are your favorite Carti song contains Bourne’s iconic producer tag, “Ay yo Pi’erre, you wanna come out here?” at the beginning. Pi’erre lays the foundation for Playboi Carti’s vocals with his signature drum patterns and entrancing synth chords and melodies. It’s the perfect setting for the rapper to weave through as he delivers infectious hooks. The most notable example of this can be heard in Carti’s 2017 hit “Magnolia” from his self-titled debut, which boasts over 217 million Spotify streams and spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Top 100, peaking at #29.
Playboi Carti, with the help of Pi’erre Bourne, released Die Lit this year, which quickly became one of my albums of the year. While maintaining an upbeat and exciting atmosphere, the energy of the album shows incredible range. Songs like “R.I.P.” make you instantly bounce your head to hard-hitting, grimy production and vocals (that’s actually what I did while writing this sentence). In contrast, its predecessor, “Long Time (Intro)” is a feel-good anthem rejoicing in the success the rapper has received thus far. Regardless of any of his songs’ mood, Playboi Carti’s choruses never fail to stay in your head after listening.
Carti clearly understands why the “mumble rap” genre attracts so many people. I expect him to bring his simple formula of catchy flows and intoxicating charisma to Showbox SoDo this Tuesday for an enthralling show. Tickets can be found here. Doors open at 7:00 PM and the show starts at 8:00 PM. Hope you can catch it!
DUKE DENHAM| **+my stummy hurt*+!!* | KXSU Music Reporter
MAXWELL SLADE| Ayo | KXSU Music Reporter