• Ike Okwerekwu

Is Mumble Rap Dead?

Mumble Rappers

Before we can have this conversation, we should ask the question, “What is Mumble Rap” for the sake of clarity because categorizing tracks under the subgenre can be subjective and even considered disrespectful. Mumble rap may be defined as music with lyrics difficult to understand or rappers that make songs with very basic lyrics and adlibs.

Although many people wisely argue that mumble rap has existed for decades, the hip hop subgenre grew in popularity in 2016 after the release of projects such as “Lil Boat” and “Lil Uzi vs the World”. The origin of mumble rap has been mostly credited to Future, Soulja Boy, and Chief Keef. Notable mumble rappers include Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Lil Yachty, Tekashi69, Desiigner, and Lil Pump. Excluding Denzel Curry’s freestyle, the XXL video below is a good depiction of what mumble rap sounds like.

In spite of many lyrical rappers, mumble rap blew up and became the new quick way for gaining attention in hip hop. Mumble rap songs such as “Panda”, “Gunmo”, and “Gucci Gang” became massive hits due to their ability to create an incredible amount of energy amongst crowds during club events and concerts. Despite the lack of music discography, mumble rappers achieved great commercial success in a relatively short period of time.

To maintain the success artists experienced, the rappers would engage in antics to stay relevant and gain attention, creating the era of trolling. Some prominent examples include Kodak wearing a black mask during the breakfast club, and Tekashi69 dissing multiple rappers on social media including YG,The Game, Cassanova and Trippie Redd.

However, the problem with doing such things is that people who view these antics are more interested in the viral moment than the artist themselves. It’s already hard enough for these rappers to maintain a loyal fan base because their music lacks substance and insightful content. In my opinion, the antics are unnecessary and foolish because they often affect the artist’s image negatively and may result in their own demise.

The infamous example that illustrates this point is the arrest of Tekashi 6ix9ine. The artist is in federal custody for charges of racketeering and firearms. Although many factors have contributed to the young man’s arrest, Tekashi’s social media antics played a huge role by fueling provocative beefs, associating with distrustful individuals, and providing evidence for cops to act on the rapper’s criminal behavior.

We are nearly half way through the year of 2019 and I have yet to hear a hit song or popular mumble rap album. Excluding well-established artists such as Future, and Migos who made music way before the mumble rap generation, none of the newer artists have made a memorable contribution for hip hop culture this year.

Kodak Black’s last album, “Dying to Live” and 21 Savage, “I am>I was” were great successful albums, but their musical content matured so much and evolved to the point that I would no longer categorize their music as mumble rap. Tracks such as “Testimony” and “A Lot” display the evolution of their artistic craft and wisdom gained from life experiences.

Like I previously mentioned, Tekashi 6ix9ine is under federal custody and we’ll be lucky to hear another album from him. As much as I love Desiigner’s wild energy, the man hasn’t been too relevant since the release of his massive hit song, “Panda.” Similar to Desiigner, Playboi Carti has not made much noise since the release of “Magnolia” although I do admit his last album, “Die Lit” was lit. Lil Pump’s last album, “Harverd Dropout” had some bangers, but it did not really resonate with his fans. Ugly God has been relatively quiet as well since the release of “Water.”

Lil Uzi Vert has been unable to release any albums or radio singles due to issues with his label company, Atlantic Record. The rapper made the song, "Free Uzi", expressing his disdainful feelings about the unfavorable circumstances with his label. Unlike Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty continues to deliver music and has recently released some new projects. Lil Yachty has managed to stay relevant through commercial appearances and his business acumen, but he receives little attention today for the music he created.

One may argue that these mumble rappers are still riding their wave and can be put back on the map once they release a project, but a key feature of mumble rap is the constant delivering of fast food music which these rappers have not done. Back in 2016 and 2017 when mumble rap was hot, new songs would be released nearly every week by these artists. This year we haven’t heard much songs from the new generation rappers and I believe the reason for such absence is due to their lack of attention and success received from the music.

J Cole speaks about the issue with mumble rap in his track, “1985”, explaining that such music only leads to short-term gains because mumble rap provides no real value and fans will eventually outgrow the music. Although I genuinely enjoy the music these rappers have created and listen to them when I’m out with my friends, I’m glad mumble rap appears to be on the decline. I believe that the decline of mumble rap proves the importance of focusing on artistic craft and spending time to deliver valuable content with a meaningful message.

“One day, them kids that listening gon grow up and get too old for that shit that made you blow up. Now your shows looking light cause they don’t show up which unfortunately means the money slow up. Now you scrambling and hoping to get hot again, but you forgot you only popped cause you was riding trends. Now you’re old news and you going through regrets.”

-J Cole


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