The confusing appeal of Ski Mask The Slump God

Ski Mask is often branded as just a ‘mumble’ rapper, but he’s much more

In a recent article I talked about music that I would consider a ‘guilty pleasure’. Someone who is, allegedly, a friend of mine, recommended that I should include Ski Mask The Slump God on this playlist. It is safe to say that that person is no longer someone I involve in my personal affairs.

Stokeley Goulbourne is a Florida-born, Jamaica-originating rapper. Though I was introduced to his music some time ago by an actual friend, he only recently began to gain a notable level of exposure and attention. His third mixtape, Beware the Book of Eli, was released in May 2018, and got to an impressive number 50 on the Billboard 200 chart. His quickly growing fan-base is actually well-documented by the fact that a YouTube video exists, with almost one million views, explaining how to rap like Ski Mask The Slump God does in (virtually) every song.

To the inexperienced eye, Ski Mask will appear to be the same as many other ‘new age’ rappers. Many have likened him to the likes of Lil Yachty and 21 Savage. I strongly believe this to be a completely inaccurate contention. Ski Mask’s lyrical content and choice of instrumentals wholly out-of-the-ordinary, and his musical style is incredibly unique, and not as easy to master as it might look on its face (though he did accuse Drake of copying his music).

Goulbourne has released a significant number of singles – more than the average artist – which suits his style of music. Each instrumental that he picks has a completely different theme and feel to it. The beats and drums are exciting and engaging; it’s really not the kind of music you could listen to while you’re knee-deep in an essay crisis. The songs start with the exact same energy that they finish with, and are normally quite short in length. Ski Mask always manages to find the perfect equilibrium between you wanting to hear more, and you being tired of one song and beginning to consider changing track. Some songs that represent him quite well are ‘Catch Me Outside’ and ‘Like A Soccer Mom’.

‘Catch Me Outside’ excellently utilises the instrumental to a popular Missy Elliot song, who Ski Mask said he grew up listening to, along with other influences like Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. The song has amassed more than 66 million views on YouTube since its release in late July 2017. The music video is just as confusing as the song, full of almost random tangents of thought, coupled with consistent ad-libs that leave the listener wondering what exactly is going through Goulbourne’s mind when writing his songs.

‘Like A Soccer Mom’ utilises the theme tune for the popular TV show Codename: Kids Next Door, that I spent a great deal of my primary school experience watching and enjoying. The song is literally exactly what you expect it to be: Ski Mask spends 2 minutes and 6 seconds drawing similes and metaphors between himself and the well-known ‘soccer mom’ stereotype. Yet, the song will still leave you swaying side to side and then having to restrain yourself upon realising you are still on public transport.

Ski Mask The Slump God is rarely going to say anything that makes you think ‘wow, I’ve really never thought about the world in this way before’, but that’s okay. No one said that that’s what music is supposed to do, and Ski Mask’s music accomplishes a completely different purpose: it makes you feel good. It makes you want to jump up or smash something or hit a piñata with any cricket-bat-like-object within grasp. You don’t have to think about it too deeply – you can just enjoy.

Beware of the Book of Eli continues the general feel of his previous singles, but with better production and a more clearly-processed theme linking the songs together. While I still cannot really pinpoint what exactly it is about his music that I enjoy, I look forward to seeing what more Ski Mask can produce, and I can only hope and pray that people stop comparing him to others who are far less talented.

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