Review: ‘Mumble Rap’ is a poor label for new Hip-Hop


Image courtesy The Come Up Show/Wikimedia Commons

Future, one of the most well-known “mumble rappers,” pictured in concert in 2014. “Mumble rap” is a misleading label for a new type of Hip-Hop.`

With the explosion of music streaming service Soundcloud, leaders of the new wave of Hip-Hop have been repeatedly classified as “mumble rap.”

The term “mumble rap” was coined to define artists who substitute complex rhyme schemes and lyricism for catchy melodies and pop like hooks. Artists Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Future, Young Thug, Chief Keef, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti have all been included under the mumble rap umbrella.

In my opinion, the term mumble rap is neither accurate nor relevant when describing these musicians. So called mumble rap artists boast about cars, diamonds and girls, but rappers have been doing this for decades.

Upcoming rap stars are just not as worried about bars anymore. Melody, atmosphere, and vibe have become more important than lyrical content on these superstars’ music.

The term mumble rap is misleading.

Future, an artist who has received much criticism for so called mumbling, doesn’t literally mumble when rapping. Effects and auto tune may make each lyric harder to pin down, but the focus of his music simply isn’t lyricism, it’s atmosphere.

A huge powerhouse in the music industry, Future has hits with everyone from Drake and Young Thug to DJ Khaled, making him one of the most relevant rappers right now. His music transports the listener to a lifestyle filled with drugs, designer clothing and luxury goods.  

This new wave of hip-hop is now dominating the charts. Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang’ is number five on the BillBoard Top 25 for Hip Hop.

It is lyrically one of the worst hits I have ever heard. The words ‘Gucci Gang’ neurotically replay throughout the whole track, only switching up for the occasional drug, fashion, or car reference. Although it may not be lyrically compelling, it is undeniably catchy.

Lukas Kubeja, a senior at Lincoln, said, “I’m more of a fan of lyric-based Hip-Hop with simpler, boom bap beats. I think that it calls for a better ear and a more attentive listener. Some people just want to turn up. That’s fine, but it’s not for me.”

These rappers create hit after hit, capitalizing on shock value lyrics and catchy melodies that get crowds fired up.

Mumble rappers have also received flak for failing to embrace the pioneers that came before them. “I honestly couldn’t name five songs by Tupac and Biggie [two legendary rappers of the 90s],” Lil Yachty told Billboard.

When asked his opinion on mumble rap, Kendrick Lamar told Forbes, ”I want hip-hop to continue to evolve. That’s why I can’t shun a lot of the artists that may not be a Kendrick Lamar. But this is what I tell them every time I see them: be yourself and do what you do but also know who laid down the groundwork.”

Lamar supports the evolution of Hip-Hop into the mumble rap era, but does not support how some of these rappers disrespect the original pioneers of Hip-Hop.

SoundCloud has allowed the underground to flip into the mainstream overnight, leaving little time for the music industry to respond with accuracy. There are no accurate labels being created in underground Hip-Hop because it’s evolving so quickly, morphing into so many styles as a genre, and drawing from so many different musical influences. Hip-Hop is no longer classifiable simply into lyrical, or non-lyrical rap.