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Kendrick Lamar talks mumble rap, hip-hop’s evolution in an expansive interview

Kendrick gave a fascinating and thoughtful (as always) interview to Forbes, addressing everything from his come-up with Top Dawg, his business ventures, his creative process, and the different branches of hip-hop as the genre continues to evolve.

When asked about what he thinks about being a so-called ‘conscious rapper,’ Kendrick¬† referenced 50 Cent’s assertion that everyone is conscious to a certain extent. Kung Fu Kenny told Forbes,

“I always go back to what 50 Cent said, and it always stuck with me. And when he said it, it made an even more valid point. He said, ‘We all are conscious, whether you’re doing gangsta rap, whether you’re doing so called conscious rap, whether you doing whatever genre you may in because you have a post, you alive and you’re telling your true feelings … these are your true thoughts and you’re conscious of them, and you’re aware of them. You are conscious, as simple as that.’ When he said that, that inspired me to not only recognize my own influence on what I have with my people.”

It’s an interesting perspective from Kendrick. His point that conscious rap is more of a blanket term, that all rappers are conscious to some degree, sheds some light on the duality of Kendrick’s own music.

The interview then moved to the topic of “mumble rap,” which has become a pejorative term used to dismiss the new generation of rappers.

Kendrick was quick to say he sees nothing wrong with mumble rap or the new artists that “may not be a Kendrick Lamar” stylistically. The one caveat being that Lamar wants the kids to honor and recognize those that came before them. Kendrick said of mumble rap and hip-hop’s evolution,

“I want hip-hop to continue to evolve. That’s why I can’t shun a lot of the artists that may not be a Kendrick Lamar. But this is what I tell them every time I see them … be yourself and do what you do but also know who laid down the groundwork. Don’t go on your interviews and diss them and say you don’t like them and you don’t care for them. So talking down on the folks that inspired us to do this, it’d never be right. You dig what I’m saying? So at the end of the day as long as you be who you are but respect what got us here, that’s how you continue to evolve.”

Hip-hop surely is evolving. The genre is expanding rapidly with new perspectives, styles, even countries, being represented and some are unsure of how to handle the shifting sound and look of hip-hop.

Labelling music is dumb. If you like it, listen to it. If you don’t, don’t. Just don’t hate for no reason.