Provoking reactions such as, “that’s not hip hop, that’s not rapping, it’s just lazy and stupid, get off the internet” Mumble Rap has quickly been accepted or rejected in todays contemporary music.
By MATHEW BELL
Provoking reactions like “That’s not hip hop, that’s not rapping and it’s just being lazy and stupid, get off the internet” Mumble Rap has quickly been accepted or rejected in todays contemporary music, dividing fans of the particular influential and powerful music platform. But why has this style, that has caught hate from traditional rap fans continued to hold a dedicated following? Is there some sort of social message to this genre? And what would provoke an audience to engage and relate to such non-traditional and strange techniques?
Originating in the housing projects of New York in the late 1970’s, rap quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon. MC’s (Microphone Controllers) would rap over Jazz samples and funk records taking influence from political spoken word poetry, powerful speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali’s rebellious rhyming boasts. This movement allowed regular and oppressed people to have their stories told, shared and heard worldwide, and it was.
But even though the stories of struggle, prejudice and new Jim Crow were witnessed on a global scale, the styles of rap and hip-hop developed but little has changed for the people actually living in the setting of these narratives.
This understanding of continual neglect brings me to one reason why mumble rap might have popularized. If your words are going to fall on the deaf ears of the public, why bother? It’s almost like a form of passive aggressive rebellion, by breaking the status quo of what is now referred to as traditional rap whilst keeping to the “similar” themes that NWA familiarized us with in 1986, maybe this new generation of artists are rebelling against the old in an attempt to spring out in search of attention and a new direction. With a majority of popular rap artists and fans immediately lashing out against this new movement, a debate formed around the genre provoking a dedicated following and bringing more consideration to the new generation.
Remember when you were young? Okay, you are most likely still young, but really young, when you were asked to explain something. One of the reasons why you may have mumbled your response would be because; you lacked confidence or were nervous with your answer. Is this how artists connect to their audience today? Associating insecurities from past or present? Of course it is, but using this platform to discuss drugs, money, beautiful women and alcohol? Surely these artists like Young Thug, Lil Yachty and Future aren’t lacking courage and assurance in their own practice (at least it doesn’t show in the lyrics) but perhaps the determination to present imperfect words as a final product resonates within their supporters.
Or perhaps mumble rap is more about the creation of music then it’s lyricism.
When a mumble rapper talks about their music, they passionately discuss hard ass beats curated specifically to get an audience “turnt” and enjoy the experience.
Searching for samples kicks and snares meticulously, to construct a dark trap anthem or flawlessly blending positive, bright melodies into more lighthearted schemes. Then the mumbled words are printed over these sounds in a repetitive fashion, almost like city walls littered with amateur graffiti, leaving behind a pure moment of experimentation. These musicians are quick to deny the title of “rapper” and prefer to use labeling like “rockstar” or the more humble term of “artist”, slowly filtering out the intelligently conceived bars we expect from the rap genre and focusing more on the emotions of a moment.
Wrapping up this discussion, it’s nothing out of the ordinary to reject something new and experimental, we’ve seen this happen constantly throughout history. In art, new movements were harshly criticized by the elite for being strange, in rock n’ roll, the swinging of the hips was portrayed as “the devil’s work” and even NWA received negative judgment from their predecessors claiming gangster rap was destructive to the hip hop culture and community. Just to be clear, Mumble Rap won’t be found on my I-pod anytime soon, but this genre, like any other, deserves exploration and analysis. Who knows how big this style will grow? Young artists will continue to experiment, rebel and relate to their audience and in 30 years the Mumble Rap fans might just be the “OG’s” calling the new era of artists “trash”. How Bout Dat.