Mumble Rap has a place in hip-hop

Rapper Lil Yachty, photo from Flickr

Mumble rap is the name given to the new wave of rappers in hip-hop, discrediting their success as legitimate artists, and boiling it down to defining them as yelling incoherent lyrics with little substance.

The term was coined for the rappers who gained popularity on Soundcloud in 2015 and began to acquire recognition and popularity, the music industry acknowledging their style as the new wave of hip-hop. This group consists of the well-known rappers Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Pump, Desiigner and Lil Yachty and many others.

The respect these artists have failed to receive from old school rappers and their fans mainly comes from the perception that music always has to mean something deeper. These musicians from the late ’90s started their careers rapping about the systemic oppression African-Americans were facing. It was an outlet for them to speak out when they were otherwise silenced.

The surface level lyrics that rappers currently have in their music is not met with appreciation because of the shift in style from the old school rappers. Eminem came out and said that he does not respect the road hip hop is leading down. He wrote his latest single, Walk on Water, on the current style of hip-hop and his disappointment with it.

The work of the new school rappers comprises lyrics referring to sex, making money and the luxuries they now have which they lacked. There is a sense of boasting of oneself in their music, the focus being largely on how far their life has come since starting out.

What is not focused on is the hustle many of these Soundcloud rappers went through to receive the recognition from the music industry. Succeeding on the platform itself is not unheard of, but the transition to getting signed by a label was the uncommon part.

The rappers who became known through their online postings stood out from the others who were creating similar music. The ones who rose above the rest and proved to be successful have the talent to back up their accomplishments. What they are creating may not have much meaning or significance to it, but they are making music for entertainment purposes.

We see different waves of hip-hop every few years, gaining many participants in the style that is popular at the time. My favourite wave of hip-hop was the introduction of storytellers in the early- to mid-2000s. This period brought my favourite artists, including J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, to fame because of their ability to tell stories of their life through the poetic verses in their music.

J.Cole is a product of his time, as are Lil Yachty and 21 Savage, products of today’s time in hip-hop. One cannot be compared to the other because of the differences in experience, style and content of each’s respective music.

Rap music is not one thing. It does not have one set definition. It is music that can be interpreted in different ways, based on the creator and what sound he or she wants to create, and what lyrics fit the individual style.

Mumble rap is a term invented to strip rappers of their talents and successes, but is now being taken back by those who were given the label. Many have decided to embrace the term, with the musician Belly, releasing a track called “Mumble Rap.”

Right now, many find themselves enjoying this style of music, involving lyrics to lift moods and celebrate. Maybe this style of music is historically different, a concept many are uncomfortable with, but maybe this genre of rap was what was missing. It provides relief for rap music fans who may want something lighthearted to listen to every so often. It does not ignite creative thought in the mind of the listener, but that is not the purpose of all music.

Rap, right now, is the most popular genre of music, proving that current rappers are succeeding in their efforts to create a sound that is enjoyable. Rap is able to appeal to a mass audience, regardless of the negative attention it is receiving.

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