Roman Soriano
Commentary

Rapper’s aggressive tone, disdainful lyrics let down listeners

“No Shame” is California rapper Hopsin’s fifth studio album and is a sullen recounting of the past two years of his life, which he describes as being a downfall.

There’s no denying that Hopsin is a talented rapper, but his lyricism and attitude tend to garner a lot of criticism. He takes on an aggressive tone as he expresses frustrations, but often he becomes very toxic, making it difficult to sympathize with him.

He’s expressed a lot of disdain for teenagers, and comes off as “fake deep,” believing he is wiser than most.

Unfortunately, “No Shame” is no different, and that was made very clear when he released the music video for “Happy Ending” on Oct. 13. “Happy Ending” is a racist, offensive video recounting Hopsin’s experience visiting an Asian massage parlor. YouTube took down the video the same day it was posted because of its offensive content and nudity.

The main story conveyed throughout the album is of how Hopsin and his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, broke up, which ultimately got him banned from Australia after he received a restraining order. He was accused of assaulting her, but he claims all he did was push her onto the bed in frustration after finding out she was cheating on him, refuse to get a paternity test and reveal that she was a stripper, not a bartender.

Most of this is explained through the first song, “Hotel in Sydney,” through a combination of verses and skits. Hopsin’s frustration and anger is understandable, but the way that he presents it can be very off-putting to listeners, partially because his lyrics often rely on shock value.

Hopsin also targets other rapper on tracks such as, “I Wouldn’t Do That,” where he essentially claims he is the best rapper. He warns other artists by saying lines such as “So who tryna wake up the dragon? You? Nah, I wouldn’t do that,” and asserting that he does not see any areas where he should improve. These are bold claims, that are common in hip-hop, but Hopsin is often criticized for having a holier-than-thou attitude. Using these types of lyrics only feeds the negative perceptions of him.

“No Words 2 (Skit)” criticizes a more specific group of hip-hop, “mumble rappers.” These are artists that critics claim mumble all their lyrics, making them hard to understand, such as Young Thug and Future. Hopsin mocks them by mumbling in an exaggerated manner, making him sound almost unintelligible.

One of the most sentimental track on the release that makes the listener want to sympathize with Hopsin, is “Ill Mind of Hopsin 9.” The “Ill Mind of Hopsin” series has been a constant part of Hopsin’s career. During these songs, he focuses on one important or controversial topic. This new addition is dedicated to his 10-month-old son, who he has yet to meet because of the complications with his ex and his restriction from Australia.

However, he also chooses to criticize his ex, which takes away from his message. He comes across as petty, and it is easy to lose empathy towards him. Had he chosen to make his lyrics more heartfelt and sincere, it would have more substance.

On the very next track, “Marcus’ Gospel,” Hopsin proves that he is capable of writing profound, earnest lyrics, which only makes “Ill Mind of Hopsin 9” that much more disappointing. He expresses feeling lost, lonely and hopeless. “Marcus’ Gospel” depicts a vulnerable side of Hopsin that is rarely seen, and it would be interesting to see him commit to these types of songs more often.

“No Shame” proves that Hopsin does have a lot of potential. He has a good ear for production, and all of the beats found on this project suit him well. A lot of the flows he employs are interesting and unique. What holds him back is his attitude, which affect his lyricism a lot and often pulls the listener out of the moment. If he had taken on a more serious tone like he did on “Marcus’ Gospel,” this album could have been much better.