"The Paradox of Mumble Rap: A celebration of Youthful originality or a Disrespect to the foundations of hip hop"
THE TIME period from 2014 to 2016 has been tumultuous to say the least. However, within the last year and a half, a shcism has emegerged within the Hip-Hop community, resulting in a furious debate, splitting the culture down the middle. At the root of this divide is "Mumble-Rap" a loose term describing a movement away from the cerebral traditions of hip-hop, to a style where the focus in on catchiness instead of content. Hailed as the New face of hip-hop by its fans, and derided as a disrespectful fad by its opponents, the relevance and quality of mumble rap remains in serious contention.
-MUMBLE rap cannot so much be blamed on the artists themselves than the consumers. The sub genre has existed long before Lil boat and Carti (Gucci has been mumbling for damn near 20 years). This popularity of mumble-rap not necessarily the result a new type of artist, but new levels of exposure for a specific sub-type of artists. However The astronomical levels exposure artists like Yachty receive is a fairly new phenomenon.
THERE is constant talk about how these mumble artists would have never been popular ten, fifteen years ago, which is certainly true, but I would go even further to say that these guys wouldn't have made in on 2012 XXL freshman list. What has changed from now and then, what has caused this shift from The Ab-souls, Joey Badass's, Action Bronsons to the Lil Uzi's, Lil Yachty's, Famous Dex's?
It is the opinion of this author that the difference lies in a major sea-change as to what the consumer base wants. It seems strange that in a time of so much political turmoil that the general taste of the populous seems to be moving away from cerebral styles in favor of the joy of the turn-up.
-EPITOMIZING the mumble rap category is Lil Yachty. Despite the simplicity of his rhymes, Lil boat's genius lies in the crafting of his image, to have such massive popularity despite lacking almost if not all of the "traditional" skill set which have propelled artists to fame in the past.
TO put it simply, Yachty's appeal lies in the fact that he cannot rap. He is a self-proclaimed outsider from the traditional school of Hip-Hop. His willing ignorance and disdain towards this culture seems to be refreshing to many young listeners who themselves feel little or no connection to the past. Not only that, but Yachty's complete inability to handle a mic in a traditional sense is the quintessential pillars of his popularity: people can simply not stop talking about him, love or hate; all press is good press. Perhaps the most effective way to make mumble rap disappear is to simply ignore it.
HOWEVER I feel that is also important in the interest of fairness, to acknowledge that Yachty completely breaks the mold of the average turn up artist. He is straight edge, something incredibly refreshing in a generation of pouring fours and popping xans. His message is not one of misogyny and violence, instead advocating for originality and being true to ones self. Together, these qualities, often overlooked by his critics, explain a considerable amount of Yachty's popularity
SO Before chastising Yachty and the rest of the mumble rappers for bashing some of the greatest hip hop offerings of all time, it is important to understand why they feel this way. First off they are young. Yachty and his generation of rappers are perhaps the first generation of contemporary artists who were born after the "golden" days of 90's hip hop, and therefore a totally different set criteria as what makes an artist talented or not in their eyes.
IN a certain ironic sense, the outrage from the "Traditional" school of hip hop has inadvertently pushed mumble rap further simply because of all the uproar. All press is good press, and the initial dismissive of this "mumble rappers" has helped paint a narrative of more cerebral or old school forms of hip hop being out of touch with the youth, boosting the strength of mumble rap and driving the two sub genres farther apart.
- Benjamin "DeadLung" Zehren