…it is important to push the boundaries beyond what we define as Hip-Hop, otherwise, it can never grow, change, or become interesting. That’s exactly what these mumble rappers are doing.
A little while back rapper Lil Yachty had caught flack for making some sort of disrespectful comments about the legendary ‘90s Hip-Hop pioneer The Notorious B.I.G. He mentioned that the rapper was overrated, and that, he couldn’t name a single Biggie song. Although Lil Boat is only 19 years old, meaning he was born in like ’97 may seem like a plausible excuse for this lack of knowledge, however, I’m just a year older and can confidently recite the lyrics to most of Biggie’s bigger songs, and I am definitely familiar with the legend’s albums. Although the rapper was simply speaking his mind, what he had to say was not taken lightly, and many in the Hip-Hop world spoke out in distaste for Yachty’s comments and while doing so, taking a swing at his own talent and success. In response, Yachty had this to say in an interview:
“People say I’m destroying Hip-Hop, and I’m like, there’s so much Hip-Hop and it’s so popular, so I don’t know why I have the power to destroy it… It’s ridiculous! Also, I feel like there are genres within genres everywhere else, like in rock… But Hip-Hop has to be one type of thing—hardcore, street, storytelling, the struggle—or it’s not real. I don’t get that. People bashed Drake based off the fact that he didn’t suffer. Who cares? Do you like the music or not?”
Even if you don’t like Yachty’s music, or think he looks weird and childish with those infamous red braids, that does not mean you should dismiss what he’s saying. Because, to be quite honest, he’s absolutely right with that statement; in fact, the type of music Yachty is making is actually fundamental in Hip-Hop.
To Keep it Blunt…
“Mumble rap”—the terminology used to categorize rappers’ mumbly flows like that of Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, etc.—is extremely important for Hip-Hop culture. Now, before you click away from this article, realize that this means a couple of things. First of all, it is important to push the boundaries beyond what we define as Hip-Hop, otherwise, it can never grow, change, or become interesting. That’s exactly what these mumble rappers are doing. Even if it’s a bad change, it’s a change, and this will allow the doors to open further to new talent and new change. Then, one also has to realize that there’s some creativity involved here. Yachty is right—why does Hip-Hop only have to be so damn dark all the time? If Yachty’s life is as fluffy and colorful as he makes it out to be, should he be exempt from making Hip-Hop? Should he lie and make it sound more street? Of course not, because, at the end of the day, Hip-Hop has always been about keeping it as real and raw as possible. If that happens to be Yachty’s real life, then he is doing nothing wrong and in fact, should be respected.
Another thing to note, even if you’re entirely on the other end of the spectrum and completely hate mumble rap, its existence means that something will counter it and maybe even take it over. Meaning, this style of Hip-Hop is challenging all who oppose it, which essentially will end with fans receiving better quality music if they are not pleased with the current climate of Hip-Hop. So, if you hate this sub-genre of rap, just hold out a bit longer.
The point in all of this is to encourage critical thinking when it comes to what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing in music—there’s always more to say about something than “oh this is trash,” and the Internet age needs to be able to realize this. Mumble rap has changed Hip-Hop, and change is necessary.