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Published on April 28th, 2019 | by Lydia Brooks

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The History of Whispering in Hip-hop (part 1)

Whispering is hardly ever associated with any genre of music. Especially, as hip-hop is an art form that is built on aggression and in-your-face flavor, it doesn’t seem like to have a place for whispering on tracks. When a rapper attempts to rip a microphone or rock a crowd, the first instinct isn’t to use an inside voice as when telling a secret. Actually, this musical genre has proven to manifest itself in different ways, with a hodgepodge of unique deliveries and flows. And whispering is no exception. 

Recently, the music world got a lot of whisper rap with the contributions of 21 Savage to his own “ASMR” and “Don’t Come Out the House” of Metro Boomin when he dabbles with periodic whispering to increase his music’s menacing vibe. Whispering in hip-hop dates back more than 25 years when some artists experimented with giving an ASMR feel to their music. Vanilla Ice was a pioneer, and then David Banner and Ying Yang Twins grabbed the baton in the mid-2000s. After that, Iggy Azalea and 21 have brought the aesthetic back to the modern music scene.

Whispering in hip-hop has developed over the decades and takes on various unrelated desired outcomes. While some are made to give a sinister vibe such as the aforementioned 21 Savage, others like Ying Yang Twins are meant to seduce and some are just meant to be flat-out different.

Now, let’s look back through the history of rappers whispering.

“Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice is the oldest and best-documented example of a rapper whispering. 1990’s “Ice Ice Baby,” his breakout hit, has verses which are rapped at full volume and during the hook, Vanilla Ice whispers “ice, ice, baby” over a piano-driven beat.

It signified the first time whispering emerged in a mainstream track of a rap song.

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