On October 6th, 2015, California-based rapper, Hopsin, uploaded “No Words” off of his fourth studio album, Pound Syndrome, to Youtube. At first listen, it sounds like a lot of rap out there, but as the seconds tick by, you start to get this weird, WTF sensation.
The twist? The lyrics are impossible to understand. Bigger twist? It’s impossible to understand on purpose.
Hopsin, under the alias Hash Brown, uses No Words as a tool to poke fun at modern hip-hop artists (Future, Young Thug) for using trap beats to distract from the fact that the song is comprised of nothing more than thoughtless lyrics and words that aren’t even understandable due to the heavy autotune. He also criticizes the consumers for buying into the distraction as well as the belief that heavy autotune and cliche lyrics actually represent good music. It’s a meta-commentary on art and the crass nature of popular hip hop.
The video is a flashing barrage of the expected; Lamborghinis and girls in bikinis – but we also see Hopsin living a life of excess so extreme that when he drinks the drank, he drinks out of about a half dozen Styrofoam cups stacked together. Even when working the sound board in the studio, he uses a Glock instead of his fingers to adjust levels. Hopsin’s point is clear: rap has moved from an expression of underground street art to assembly line idiocy lacking self-reflection and originality.
But who’s to blame for the decline of quality in hip-hop music? The artist or the consumer?
It’s the artist who puts the music out in the first place. The artist creates the lyrics that can either speak volumes about social injustices or speak quietly about money and drugs. The consumer is the one that buys the music that convinces the artist that what he/she does is working. But there will always be artists like Hopsin, reminding us all of our shortcomings with a smirk and middle finger.