Unpacking Claims That Congolese Rapper MC Baba Is Mute and Can't Sing, Rap or Hear

Africa Facts Zone/X
Africa Facts Zone/X

In May 2024, a viral claim across social media platforms suggested that the Republic of Congo had produced a deaf rapper who cannot sing, rap or speak. The subject of this claim was MC Baba, an artist who has gained significant attention for his unique performances, bolstered by his apparent disabilities.

Various users on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram and X have widely shared MC Baba's story, expressing both amazement and skepticism about his musical output. For instance, on June 5, 2024, the X account @AfricaFactsZone shared that "Congo has produced Africa's first mute Rapper named MC Baba" in a post that attracted considerable attention, with 10.5 million views, as of this writing.

Another account on X, @stillgray, shared the same clip and similar sentiments, writing, "Congo has produced its first mute rapper. He can't sing, he can't rap, he can't hear. Apparently this is music." That tweet received 2.7 million views as of this writing.

People continued to discuss whether MC Baba is a genuine artist or a parody due to the unconventional and surreal nature of his fame. While some viewers believe he could be part of an elaborate joke, others recognize his efforts to break barriers and redefine what it means to be a performer with a disability.

MC Baba, known as the "mute rapper," reportedly launched his rap career in 2021 by taking part in local freestyle rap battles in the African nation. His real name has not been disclosed and other details about his life remain scant, with some outlets stating he hails from the Republic of Congo, while others saying he's from the neighboring country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. An old Facebook account apparently belonging to the rapper says that he is from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo.

"Oko Lela Epa Ya Nani," a song by Brazzaville rapper Paterne Maestro featuring MC Baba, gained significant attention on social media platforms in May 2024, with the song's popularity contributing to the growing interest in the "mute rapper" from Congo.

Videos of MC Baba's performances from 2023 have also sparked widespread curiosity and online debate about his authenticity and capabilities, with many people arguing in the YouTube and Instagram comments sections about whether he is a real artist or a parody.

His "official" Instagram account, mcbabaofficiel, has fewer than 8,000 followers and just 14 posts, as of this writing. The first post on his account is a live performance from September 2023, while his second post dates to March 2024.

Meanwhile, his official TikTok channel, which boasts 165,000 followers and growing, features numerous clips including his live performances, recording in the studio, and dancing and posing with friends and fans. Google translates his French-language TikTok bio as follows: "Yo family! I introduce myself Mc BABA a rapper without words of Congolese origin."

MC Baba claims fame through his ability to produce rhythmic sounds and mouth movements, despite reportedly being unable to hear or speak. His performances do not involve traditional singing or rapping with words, but rather, mouth sounds that align with backing tracks. It's suggested that he can feel the vibrations emanating from the hip-hop beats, which guide his songwriting and performance. Indeed, one clip on his TikTok account appears to show MC Baba wearing earbuds and listening to music while studying a notebook. He then closes the notebook and begins performing his distinctive mouth style to the accompanying song.

This unique style has led to questions about whether he should be classified as mute, as he is capable of producing sounds but apparently not traditional speech. However, mutism does not always mean a complete absence of vocal sounds.

Some have speculated on MC Baba's status as a deaf and/or mute individual, as the artist has reportedly never officially confirmed his disabilities, while some outlets have suggested he was born with these disabilities.

Being mute is characterized by the inability to speak, which can stem from a range of physical or psychological factors. This condition can be present from birth due to genetic or developmental issues, or it can develop later in life from injury, illness or trauma impacting the vocal cords, brain or other functions involved in speech. Psychological causes, such as anxiety disorder or trauma, can also result in an inability to speak. Being mute does not necessarily mean being deaf; many mute individuals have normal hearing but cannot speak.

Mute individuals may retain the ability to produce mouth or throat sounds, even though they cannot articulate or form words. They might make noises such as humming, grunting or other non-verbal sounds. This capacity varies depending on the underlying cause of their mutism.

Online commenters have claimed MC Baba as Africa's, the Congo's, or even the world's first mute rapper, but in 2017, Phoenix teen Isaiah Acosta, who was born without a jaw and has never spoken, released his rap single, titled "Oxygen to Fly."

The claim that the Congo has produced a mute rapper who cannot sing, rap or hear is still under investigation. MC Baba is a real performer with a growing following, and his unique approach to music continues to intrigue and inspire debate, especially on social media. However, further evidence is needed to fully understand the extent of MC Baba's hearing and verbal impairment. As of now, the situation remains a mix of facts and ongoing exploration.

Snopes has previously written about hip-hop stars, including the beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake, and the false claim that Lil' Wayne had one month to live.


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