It could be argued – and has – that the divide in hip-hop isn’t as much generational as much as it is ideological. There can be unity between hip-hop traditionalists and so-called “mumble rappers” no matter the ages, but that depends on understanding. Erykah Badu understands. She’s earned a spot in hip-hop culture as a sagacious, almost mythic figure not just through her music or her romantic life, but through radiating good vibrations. She understands the importance of vibrations, and in a recent interview with Vulture, she explained how they impact today’s music.
“What’s interesting to me about music and the younger generation is that what we hear on the radio is more about frequency and sound than words,” she said. “People talk about ‘mumble rap’, but that’s because they don’t understand that the important thing is the vibration, not the words.”
Indeed, artists like Future, Migos, and Travis Scott, aren’t beloved for the content of their lyrics as much as how they deliver them. These artists have developed a symbiotic relationship with their production which makes them veritable vibe curators. That’s a talent that should be respected as much as being a wordsmith. Unfortunately, many detractors — and at least one “mumble rapper” — don’t see it that way. In Badu’s opinion, however, vibrations are more important than lyrics today because “the kids need vibrations because their attention span is about three seconds.”
She noted that some of her favorite acts are DRAM, Lil Uzi Vert, and XXXTentacion, who her son Seven put her onto.