When I first started purposely listening to hip hop about 5 years ago, the idea that a rapper had charisma was something I couldn’t really stomach. As a music fan I am primarily a fan of chops and, for me, vocal chops had to do with singing, not rhyming. I didn’t understand flow and I didn’t really want to.
I’m not claiming to know much about rap delivery now, but I know more than I did 5 years ago. And, listening to Mystikal, I think I finally understand charismatic rapping. I’ve certainly heard it before, but this is probably the first record where it won me over. In the past, if the rapping wasn’t technically impressive (either due to the complexity of the word play or rhythmic dexterity) I don’t think I cared much about the rapping. (I’d usually focus on the production.) But here I can’t help but being kind of in awe of his presence. He is commanding. And, as others have noted, there’s sort of a James Brown type of magnetism going on.
But then I looked him up and learned that he is a terrible person. and so the goodwill I was feeling – despite my concern over lots of the lyrics – went out the window. Depicting isn’t condoning of course, but anyone with this kind of record isn’t someone I want to support. (I have, I guess, given that I listened to this album on a streaming service which is, presumably, giving him a very small amount of money due to my 3 listens of this record.)
Much of what makes southern hip hop more appealing than west coast hip hop (and some east coast) is present here – there is a soulfulness and a griminess to the production (and the delivery) which is not present on so much other hip hop. Even without lyrical references to New Orleans I suspect I’d guess it’s from the south.
The album is too long, as usual, but it’s full of material that is mostly catchy. And basically no skits! Thank science!
It’s a shame that Mystikal is an awful human, really. He’s certainly entertaining. And on the more serious stuff he is believable.