Opinion: Did mumble rap kill lyricism in hip hop?

Whether you relate to writer Marvin B’s preferred genres, or just love the business of music, you’ll admire and savour the poetic turn of phrase in his writing, added to the plain talking; a MB feature. To read more later , click here

When hip hop’s legend Nas said “Hip hop is dead” back in 2006 he may have been on to something. Now in 2018 we are living in the era of fast food music where the ingredients are a sprinkle of repetition of words on a hot beat, mixed with a super basic flow. Some veteran MCs including Eminem, have found mumble rap hard to digest as they feel this is lazy rapping disguised as hip hop.

Now I’ll be honest, some of these mumble rappers need subtitles as they can barely pronounce a word, let alone string a few rhymes together. Maybe it’s all the lean and Percocets in their system, however I can still appreciate a good sound.

Mumble rap officially hit the scenes back in 2011 when Atlanta’s own Future released the hit single ‘Tony Montana’. His simplistic flow combined with his intoxicated slurred melodic rhymes gave birth to a whole new wave of artists such as the Migos and Young Thug, who are now categorised as mumble rappers.

The new class of young rappers have also adopted the mumble formula and have found success doing so. Desiigner’s single ‘Panda’ sold five million units, while Lil Pump’s single ‘Gucci Gang’ went multi-platinum reaching number three in the Billboard charts. The Migos album Culture 2, which was released last year, also debuted at Number One, and has now sold a million units – according to the RIAA (2017 Recording Industry Association of America). It seems that mumble-rap has brushed the lyrical rappers under the hip-hop rug with the success rate of these artist at an all-time high.

Maybe technology has played a major role in dumbing us down to the point where our attention span is now on life support. This could be a factor as to why mumble rap has become popular. As it is easier to absorb and re-create, rather than using ones brain to dissect and produce lyrical word play.

Although a few mumble rappers have found some success in the charts mainly for their singles, the lyrical heavyweights such as Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J. Cole and Logic are still out punching the mumblers when it comes to album sales. This debunks the theory that lyricism is dead within hip hop.

In reality the majority of these new mumble rappers are more known for their lyrical antics on social media rather than their music. The lines are now blurred between social media fame and real-life success. Trolling on Instagram may boost the followers of an artist, however it does not mean it will increase their music streaming numbers.

What people are failing to understand is that hip hop has now grown and become pop culture hence being the most streamed music in world today. We now have multiple sub genres under the hip hop umbrella, from conscious, G-funk, trap, gangsta, drill and now mumble rap. Music is just like life, it goes through different cycles and we are currently in the ‘mumble rap’ phase.

What’s next?


Marvin’s Blog started out as his portfolio for the ACM Music Journalism module, summative Term 1 2018-2019. (#ilovemyjob ed.)

Contemporary music students may be interested in the following article which reveals Drake’s first press kit @ www.vibe.com
















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