We Really Need to Talk About Mumble Rap

Let’s lighten things up slightly after last week’s post

After days, weeks, months, even years, of trying to ignore it – I can’t do it any longer. It’s permeating through my bullshit filter like it’s permeating the industry. The topic up for discussion is; ‘mumble rap’.

Most prominent mumble rappers today

So why is it so controversial? Well, you have to look back at the pioneers of hip-hop to understand the distaste towards this new wave. Think of Rakim, 2Pac & Big Daddy Kane – arguably three of the most prominent and influential figures ever to pick up a mic.

In Akala’s TedX talk, he played a game with the audience: were the lyrics he was reading out from hip-hop songs, or written by Shakespeare? This epitomises the value that hip-hop has always placed on lyricism, which many consider ‘mumble rap’ to completely flout and disregard. Let’s steal Akala’s format, but play;

‘Mumble Rap’ or ‘2Pac’?!

Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang (Gucci gang)
Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang (Gucci gang)
Spend three racks on a new chain (yuh)
My bitch love do cocaine, ooh (ooh)
I fuck a bitch, I forgot her name (brr, yuh)

So is that Lil Pump or 2Pac?! Okay, let’s do another:

Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots
I give a holla to my sisters on welfare
*artist name* cares if don’t nobody else care
And I know they like to beat you down a lot

Roll up, roll up – Lil Uzi Vert or 2Pac? Right, last one:

I just took some molly, what else? (Hey)
Got some bitch from Follies with us (‘scuse me, ‘scuse me)
She gon’ fuck the squad, what else? (I swear)
I’ma fuck her broads, what else? (Get, get!)
Bitch from Pakistan, what up? (Foreign!)
Ferraris and them Lambs, what else? (skrrrt)

I ask again – Future or 2Pac?

How did you get on? I don’t even need to tell you the answers, you already know. Also, big shout out to genius.com for actually deciphering what the fuck was going on – a very useful ally in getting the lyrics together.

Not that the lyrics even matter. Some of these rappers don’t even know what their own lyrics are. Future has even stated in an interview that his fans will parrot lyrics back to him, that the fans have completely made up. Why? Because Future himself hadn’t even written lyrics, he was just making noises instead.

A Matter of Taste
Maybe then, it’s a question of taste. Do you prefer your hip-hop to be full of clever, meaningful & intelligent lyrics? Or are you listening to it just for the fact it sounds a bit ‘syrup-y’.

For me, Hopsin’s (another controversial figure in hip-hop, but another post for another day), parody “No Words” pretty much sums up my view on mumble rap.

But look, maybe I’m just some jumped up middle-class bellend who isn’t in touch with what hip-hop is becoming. Some of you may be asking why it even matters if mumble rap is becoming popular, and that there’s plenty of room in hip-hop for everybody.

Well, yes and no. But mainly no.

As we are all acutely aware, the music industry is built on profit. At the moment, it’s profitable to slur your words over a trap beat and get real friendly with auto-tune. These are the rappers at the moment, who are earning the most money, but more importantly, earning the labels the most money. Thus, if mumble rap continues to be the most profitable way for record companies to push hip-hop, then ‘conscious’ hip-hop, or artists who place high value on lyricism, are going to be put on the bench in the ‘rap reserve team’.

Now, as a hip-hop fan, but more importantly – a consumer, you need to ask yourself who you want to support. Who do you want to be known as the figurehead of the current culture? Money talks, and you need to invest on the hip-hop forerunner you want to succeed.

Personally, I’d trade in a thousand Lil Uzi Vert’s for one more Kendrick Lamar. A choice we’re all going to have to make sooner, rather than later.