STORY BY: KRIS CARRASCO & GRESTER CELIS-ACOSTA
It’s only mumble rap if you don’t pay attention to what you’re listening to. The way that metal music is more than just screaming, this new era of rap music/trap/mumble rap/soundcloud rap is much more than heavy beats, slurred lyrics, drug references and strange ad-libs.
This music genre is extremely underappreciated. People sleep on many of the artists because they only see internet play.
Here are some artists in case you need a reference of the style: 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, xxxtentacion, Lil Xan, Ski Mask the Slump God, Migos, Tay K-47, Ugly God, Designer, Future, 6dogs, Playboi Carti and Migos. Spotify even has a playlist set up for the music scene called Clout Culture.
But with Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Life” and Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” taking over the mainstream radio waves, it’s safe to say that this new style of music is changing the rap game. Not to argue that Lil Pump is saving the rap game, on the contrary, the rap game does NOT need saving; especially not when we have albums like Kendrick’s “DAMN” still fresh on our minds.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t have something different though right? Even if it is as senseless as literally saying “Gucci Gang” 12 times per chorus. Does rap music have to have some type of meaning or agenda? Thanks to SoundCloud and other sites, it doesn’t have to.
For whatever reason, many current hip-hop fans shame the new music scene, intensely arguing that the music has no real meaning and that it only glamorizes another wave of substance abuse while disrespecting the classic rap sound. The songs are high tempo with layers of interesting beats, sometimes the lyrics are their own melody that dance around the beat, and the ad libs only add to the intensity.
These new rappers spit about the lifestyles they know - pill popping and drug pushing and lean sipping and depression feeling. Some songs do lack general lyrical substance and are completely meant to hype up the listener with a strong beat and aggressive hooks just like any other feel good song. These rappers aren’t just talking about dumb shit for no reason, but really are getting into detail about their trap life. 21 Savage spits about how rapping saved his life and his brother’s murder due to gang relations in “Numb”. Lil Pump often references how he sold meth and other drugs in the projects of South Florida. Lil Xan raps about his upcoming music career and his early addiction with Xanax in “Betrayed. Speaking the truth about your life is what rap music started out as and is still what it’s about, it just happens to come in a different form nowadays because of how diverse these people from these backgrounds are.
Most of these artists started out making music from easy to download software which they learned how to use through YouTube. The reason most of this music consists of repetitive beat patterns and simple lyrics is because there’s only so much you can produce on a budget (this also explains why most of Lil Pump’s songs do not exceed over 2.5 min). Ironically enough, this simple and limiting production level is what makes the music so good.
This new sound of rap music isn’t going anywhere and will only keep evolving as more and more artists take advantage the new ability to create and share personal content around the world through the internet; that’s why this music is so strange at first to us, because it’s new.
Social Media is now a huge part of the music industry and because artists now have to compete with everything else on our news feeds, it’s no wonder why these musicians go through such extreme lengths with face tattoos and edgy lyrics for the well deserved attention.
Artists no longer have to go through record labels to produce and share their music with audiences and can easily take advantage of social media for publicity or as we like to call it – Clout.
The general reception to mumble rap is positive, but many feel that this music is an embarrassment to hip-hop.
Old-school rappers like Ice-T, Pete Rock, and Eminem have vocalized their distaste for the new sub-genre, the latter said in November that mumble rap makes him “frustrated.” More current rappers have dissed the genre as well, without pointing to anyone specifically.
All of these people share the feeling that mumble rap artists are disrespecting the culture of hip-hop by not releasing quality songs and not giving homage to the artists that came before them.
More traditional artists like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole outsell any mumble rap artist by a boatload, and their airplay dominance is more than evident when their songs go platinum in a matter of weeks.
Despite mumble rap’s popularity and its impressive number of artists, true quality rappers who spit lyrics that reflect the way society treats them and views them will always hold the throne.
Kendrick and Cole don’t sugar coat anything. They talk about growing up oppressed, about their struggles in the music industry and now how it feels to be on top of the world thanks to their music. They were all influenced by the generation that came before them. K Dot has often said that Eminem, NWA, Tupac and many other rappers have influenced his music and you can hear that with songs like “The Blacker the Berry” and “M.A.A.D. city.” J Cole, on the other hand, has a strong influence of Nas, check “Let Nas Down.” Their lyrical dexterity lets them put out bangers like “Humble” or “Tale of 2 Citiez” then turn around and put out thought provoking songs that really mean something.
Now Kendrick and Cole are just two of the finer rappers out there. There are plenty others like Logic, Vince Staples, Big K.R.I.T., Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, G-Eazy, and many, many others. Keep in mind all of these artists have garnered popularity over the past five to six years, which is roughly around the same time span that mumble rap has increased in popularity.
True rap isn’t going anywhere and will continue to be more popular over mumble rap is for the same reason trap music isn’t a big deal anymore.
All of these one-hit wonders don’t stay in the rap game for very long because they are not true to the art.
The definition of true rap comes back to the traditional sound that everyone has come to know about hip-hop. Songs with an abundance of lyrics, multiple rhymes, different rhyming schemes, a good beat and a good chorus. One song does not sound similar to another and the content differs from person to person. The criticism that mumble rap often gets is that all the songs tend to sound the same. The beat feels the same, the lyrics sound the same and often don’t make any sense and the listeners often do not know what the artist is saying.
Nevertheless, all of mumble rap isn’t complete garbage. I myself enjoy a couple of these artists like Post Malone and Migos. Even Future, who came up on trap music and mumble rap is still here and still making music, but that man has been one in a million to do so. Most of these mumble rappers are fleeting phenoms, one and done. True rap will always remain on top.