Have you ever wondered why specific rappers you may listen to deliver their lyrics in such a faultless and effortless manner? In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we witnessed Thanos possess all infinity stones and ultimately become the number one ruler of the galaxy. Similar to how we almost saw Lord Voldemort possess all three Deathly Hallows, or Sasuke Uchiha awaken both of his Mangekyō Sharingan eyes. But in an alternate rap universe, what does it take to become the “final boss” rapper?
[Thanos with all the Infinity Stones in MCU's End Game]
Let’s use the MCU infinity stone basis. There are five key abilities - or in this case, rap infinity stones, the so-called “perfect” rapper must possess:
Although the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z etc., and in the UK examples such as Ghetts, Chip and Wretch 32 may have the ability to showcase all five, a rapper who lacks two or maybe four of these infinity stones doesn’t necessarily make them a “bad” or “sub-par” rapper. Essentially, many rappers who fail to up-skill themselves tend to use their flaws as a gateway to brand their music sonically. Young Thug and Chief Keef never had the best clarity and cadence… did they? However, they doubled down on their strengths. Being so
charismatic and having unique flows that are so influential and championed in today’s era of hip-hop, at this point they must have about 100 sons.
[Young Thug (Picture 1) & Chief Keef (Picture 2)]
So, since we understand the basis of our conversation, the importance of the rap infinity stones and recognise that all five aren’t necessarily crucial to possess, let’s break them down individually.
The clearness, the diction in how you deliver your bars. Besides their sheer talent, have you ever wondered why the likes of Skepta, Giggs and most recently Central Cee have made the crossover to stateside seem so effortless? I’d put a lot of it down to the clarity in their lyrics. Every word is heard and served without sacrificing their charisma, as well as not excessively using British Ebonics – which may be hard to digest in a foreign ear. Clarity makes it easy for
the listener to continue to listen to your music. As much as the basis of music is to send a clear message, whether simple or complicated, rappers must maintain the fun element in their music to keep the listener engaged and interested. Make it easy for them!
The pitch and the tone with which you deliver your bars, how it sits on the melody of the beat. It’s an infinity stone that if a rapper possesses, he or she may not feel the need to require the remaining four. I believe that it exposes how well a rapper understands what suits his or her voice. In layman's terms, the beat selection. The likes of Potter Payper and Fredo tend to have a knack for a great beat selection and it isn’t a coincidence that as time goes on, their music matures simultaneously with their voice. It’s called having a great ear for melodies and voice recognition.
[Potter Payper's Classic 'Training Day 3' Album & Fredo's Independence Day Project]
Ahh, charisma. My personal favourite rap infinity stone. Ghetts, Backroad Gee, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj. There's a clear pattern among them and it's obvious to notice that they're all extremely charismatic in their music. Charisma is the character that defines your bars, and also your delivery. It could be labelled as a hybrid definition of your flow and cadence since you require both skill sets to display a certain level of charisma in the manner of the rappers I stated. The reason why it's a personal favourite infinity stone of mine is that
the creativity level required to be charismatic in your music is fairly high and when rappers display this level of ability, the quality of music automatically increases.
In recent years, complex lyricism has become outdated and relegated to the second tier of rap superiority. Being a "lyrical" rapper in 2022 isn't championed as much as it was in 2002 or even in recent years, 2012 – the year the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Drake displayed arguably their best raps. In a nutshell, a lyrical rapper would demonstrate wordplay skills, double-entendres, metaphors and similes – all in one 16-bar verse. On the contrary, a rapper who isn’t perceived as lyrical or a “mumble rapper” would display skills
such as repetition and simple one-liners. Music as a whole has moved towards a simplistic sound that is easier on the ear. From lyrics to production, to the length of a common track being desirably 2:20, music has tended to our shorter attention spans which has translated to the genre of hip-hop.
The most important rap infinity stone. A rapper’s flow is the entry point to the listener's ear. Sonically, it's the first impression the listener will have of the music. A great flow is what gets you moving, is what has your head bopping to the rhythm of the beat because the rapper fits perfectly into the pockets of the instrumental. An example of a great flow is the likes of Young Adz, Unknown T and Headie One. A good flow could take you places as an
artist for a couple of years. However, a great flow requires charisma and in some cases, a clear cadence – which will solidify an artist in their respective sub-genre of rap.
Now that we’ve evaluated all rap infinity stones, which one do you reckon a rap artist should value the most? Is clarity a key component? How about lyricism – is it a dated component or will rap music always return to its essence of descriptive lyrics? Are all five stones required to excel as a rapper? Let’s talk about it!
Blog Written by Flashy Sillah (@FlashySillah)