Abstract hip hop is a genre of alternative hip hop music that eschews many of the conventions and themes of traditional hip hop. Artists in this genre often focus on more abstract ideas such as existentialism or social institutions, instead of everyday problems or braggadocio, and tend to use extensive metaphors and symbolic word choice.
Although abstract hip hop can be difficult to understand at first, after some careful digging it can expand the listener’s mind well beyond the realm of music. The music draws heavily from poetry, jazz, psychology and other forms of academic thought, and the ideas present can be profound and world-shaking.
Cmyk – james blake (r & s records)
One of the most influential abstract hip hop artists, james blake is an indie producer from london. His second solo extended play, “cmyk,” released in the spring of 2010, received a lot of attention in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
MADVILLAINY – MF DOOM and Madlib
As far as conceptual abstract rap albums go, MADVILLAINY is probably the most accomplished, with DOOM’s uncouth spin on East Coast posturing delivered at such a relentless speed that it can be dizzying to hear. But Madlib’s hypnotic fusion of scratchy looped beats with the cartoonish alter-ego Lord Quas allows for a level of confessional honesty that most abstract rappers can’t achieve, and his deft touch on looped breakbeats makes for a very layered listening experience.
Abstract hip hop is a relatively new style of music that has become a fixture in the underground scene since the early 2000s. It is largely unknown outside of the alternative hip hop community, but critics and fans alike see it as an overwhelmingly positive influence on contemporary rap culture.