What Went Wrong With… Mumble Rap?

A comparison of Hip-Hop lyrics from 1996 and 2016 to show how bad Mumble Rap is compared to Golden Era Hip-Hop Music. By What Went Wrong Or Right With...?

These days the entertainment business is littered with the offspring of people who didn’t have the heart to tell their kids that their lack of talent and below-average abilities should prevent them from venturing into the arts. With hacks in film, television, and music, the buck really does stop with the mothers and fathers. You’ll routinely see these types of people on talent shows with their family and friends spurring them on, and with an inflated sense of self-worth, they perform appallingly without ever recognising that they’re under-qualified for the position they’re tying out for. With their delusions of grandeur in full swing, if they’re ever confronted with rejection these imbeciles proceed to cry and scream clichés such as “it’s my dream!” in the hopes that a few crocodile tears and a tantrum will somehow allow them to be in a sector of entertainment they obviously don’t belong. Years of this over-encouragement and unworthy praise it seems has resulted in swaths of teenagers and young adults who have never been told the truth; that they’re crap at their chosen subject or field. On many an occasion another set of under-qualified twats working in record labels, marketing firms, and broadcasting corporations then see fit to inflict these pricks on the buying public, and with a little exposure, a little promotion, and a lot of corruption, these talentless hacks become famous.

This brings me neatly to Mumble Rap, this is a term that was everywhere last year, it became a label to describe a set of contemporary rappers who a lot of the time literally mumbled their so-called lyrics. These “Mumble Rappers” have recently made a name for themselves as they deliver appallingly bad raps over equally horrendous beats. With nobody in their social circle to tell them their music is garbage, I can only assume this correlates directly to the first set of people I was talking about; these are the over-encouraged brats born in the late ‘90s. Before I go on, I have to point out that Mumble Rap isn’t really a bona fide Hip-Hop sub-genre, in truth it’s just a way of grouping together all the rappers who sound like shit. If you speak incoherently because your out-of-style gold grillz don’t fit in your gob or because your lyrical skills are so poor that you have to disguise them with an actual mumble, then this is the fake sub-genre for you. In reality Mumble Rap is an afterthought, a term created by the industry to glaze over the fact that so many under-skilled rappers have now made it past the barrier.

If you’ve never heard Mumble Rap before then you’re lucky, but if you’re curious to hear or see how far Hip-Hop music has fallen in recent years, here’s Desiigner with last year’s nonsensical hit “Panda”…

What’s funny is that this song isn’t even the worse Mumble Rap to surface. Last summer every time my clock radio woke me up in the morning, D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty’s ‘Broccoli’ came on. In a half-woken stupor, I thought that shit was a fragment of my imagination; a garbled verse that sounded like Stephen Hawking being waterboarded. That can’t be a serious rapper? That can’t be a real track? It must be a joke, right? To my amazement, this was an actual song that has since received over 163,000,000 hits on YouTube and even contributed to Lil Yachty becoming an internationally famous entertainer. The first verse on this track was so bad that it was a step down from Mumble Rap extraordinaire Desiigner. If you want to hear how dire this song really is, here’s the music video, wait for the first verse and work out why Yachty is signed not to mention how he has attained countless fans…

The weird thing about garbage is that in contemporary society it’s defended, we’re told “give everyone a chance” or “why are you hating?” thus removing any type of criticism from obviously bad creations. All this does however, is leave room for more and more trash to pile up and cover over the unassuming, underrated, and underexposed stuff; the stuff worth listening to and the stuff that’s really worth watching. The other thing about garbage, especially garbage Hip-Hop is that you can find a trail back to the original creator of the litter, and Mumble Rap, a dumbed-down version of Southern Hip-Hop can be traced almost as far back as Hip-Hop itself. This trash has slowly progressed from Master P to Lil Wayne, then Soulja Boy, Chief Keef, Trinidad James, Riff Raff, Future, Migos, T-Wayne; all the effluence from the ’90s and ’00s has paved the way for Mumble Rappers like Desiigner, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, and Kodak Black. If anything personifies contemporary Hip-Pop it’s kids brought up on No Limit and Cash Money. Listen to crap and it’ll influence you to make some of your own.

Mumble Rap is a term that encompasses anybody with gaudy outfits who think they’re original and stylish, someone usually slurring their speech faking a southern drawl over some rapid-snare-drum-infused, bassy Trap muzak. This is not a new style, it’s a regurgitation of the last ten to twenty years of Hip-Pop by the offspring of faux-liberal, no-smacking parents who themselves listened to the worst kind of rap. If a parent listened to Mystikal for instance, their kids grew up thinking that shit was acceptable and now that they’ve become adults and musicians, hey presto we’ve got Mumble Rap. But this so-called sub-genre isn’t something new and exciting, it’s the devolution of Hip-Hop.

To pre-empt any potential criticism, the media has been fervently defending this latest Hip-Pop offshoot. The mainstream media of course loves to talk up bullshit, so recently they’ve been comparing Mumble Rappers to old-school rappers with skill. In an article for the writer compares Mumble Rappers to Ol’ Dirty Bastard! What these fake journos fail to understand however, is that if you can name a single rapper who was different to others from the golden era then he’s nothing like Mumble Rappers of today; he’s unique. There was “no father to his style” that’s why he was the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the fact that this is your defence of a group of rappers who sound so much alike that they can be grouped together under an umbrella term, it proves you’re clutching at straws. even went as far as saying Mumble Rap is similar to double-time, but surely comparing unskilled rappers to skilled rappers is utterly illogical too? Comparing Desiigner to acts like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony proves the mainstream doesn’t know shit about Hip-Hop.

If this wasn’t enough, I’ve even seen a video on YouTube comparing Mumble Rappers to The Sugarhill Gang, defending gibberish of today by likening it to the opening line to ‘Rapper’s Delight’; “I said a hip hop, the hippie the hippie, to the hip hip hop, and you don’t stop” which I’ll point out was also unique when it was made in ’79. What these Mumble Rappers do on the other hand isn’t unique or individual in the slightest, it isn’t new, it’s a resurgence of late ’90s Hip-Pop delivered by a bunch of talentless idiots to a bunch of uninformed fools.

It seems that these days instead of calling wack rappers wack rappers, the media have come up with a convenient term or label that suggests this amateur flow and sub-par delivery was somehow planned with meticulous care and consideration. They want us all to think that bad singing and bad rapping is a stylistic choice and that the creators and purveyors of such mediocrity are somehow worthy of praise. Deep down however, we all know that’s a load of old cobblers.

Speaking of old, another defence of Mumble Rap seems to be “it’s what the kids like” simultaneously dividing people from different generations and blaming all young people for making bad music. It’s no surprise that the mainstream argument for Mumble Rap is very divisive. The media will have you believe that this is about old people versus young kids, but this for me is a lazy-arsed argument. Mumble Rap and Lyrical Rap isn’t about young vs. old at all, more accurately it’s about bad vs. good,

Since young MCs seem to be getting a bad rap these days (pardon the pun) let me point out that there are many young rappers who make fantastic Hip-Hop music today. There are 21 year olds Joey Bada$$, Denzel Curry, and Que Hampton, 20 year old Bishop Nehru and Stro, right down to 19 year old A-F-R-O. If someone as young as 19 can still make what is considered by many as “old-school” sounding, lyric-focussed Hip-Hop, then the whole argument about young sub-par rappers falls flat on its arse. Lyricism isn’t just the preserve of the old and rapping some unintelligible, nonsensical gibberish isn’t just the domain of the young. And by the way, “You’re not supposed to like it, it’s for the kids” is a statement that only an old person makes.

Just to buck the trend (or possibly trying their hardest to “fit in”) a few old-school rappers and producers like Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder have actually defended Mumble Rappers, but why? To defend a bunch of below-average performers (one of which declared that Drake is a better rapper than Tupac) is like defending a mosquito that’s giving you Malaria. It’s obvious to almost everyone that inferior rapping is ruining Hip-Hop music so why stick up for something that’s dragging the genre down? In addition, these mumbling non-MCs haven’t even heard of Black Star and Little Brother, and if Kweli or Wonder’s opinion about Mumble Rap were the opposite, the likes of Lil Yachty would probably say Future or Migos was better than them. I guess only Pete Rock speaks the truth these days.

This is a very similar to the situation with Soulja Boy back in the ‘00s. Remember when Kanye West defended Soulja Boy around the time when Ice-T said he’d “single-handedly killed Hip-Hop”? Back when many Hip-Hop fans agreed Soulja Boy’s music was sub-par, the overrated cunt Kanye compared him to the likes of Nas! If you don’t remember, West once said on his blog…

“Soulja boy is fresh as hell and is actually the true meaning of what hip hop is ‘sposed to be. He came from the hood, made his own beats, made up a new saying, new sound and a new dance with one song. He had all of America rapping this summer. If that ain’t Hip Hop then what is? A bunch of wannabe keep it real rappers that ain’t even relevant, recycling samples trying to act like it’s 96 again and all they do is hate on new shit? Niggas always talk about the golden age but for a 13 year old kid, this is the golden age!!! That song was so dope cause everything he said had a hidden meaning… that’s Nas level shit…”

Yes, that was Kanye “Overrated Fuckwit” West comparing Soulja Boy to Nas. But after the dust settled from all the ‘Crank That’ dancing, was he as legendary as the Queensbridge rapper from the golden era? Nope. Kanye and everybody else defending this fool were proved wrong. Nas was relevant, listenable, and credible beyond his prime, he’s still spoken of today, but Soulja Boy? Everybody recognises and accepts he’s lame. This proves that people shouldn’t be so quick to defend trash just because it’s popular. New doesn’t automatically mean good. In addition, when people said Soulja Boy was crap, do you remember his fans reaction? “Y’all old”… “This is the new style, get used to it!”. But that was 10 years ago, now that shit is old too. Was it garbage? Yes. So everybody in the underground was right; Ice-T was right, Kanye West was wrong, the mainstream will always be proven wrong.

We as a culture need to start admitting when something is garbage; everything new shouldn’t be automatically applauded, in addition everything old shouldn’t automatically be labelled a classic either. Trash is made everyday, crap is crap and mediocre is mediocre regardless of when it’s made. And by the way, having a lot of fans doesn’t make something credible either, just look at all the shitty novelty songs that have been made over the years; they get bought, they get into the charts, but pretty much all of them are shite.

Back to the subject, it’s not like all this mediocre rapping is a choice by Mumble Rappers who can truthfully rap if they try. I remember when Sticky Fingaz of Onyx badly sang ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong, but that was on purpose, all his other tracks were skilfully created. It’s fine to mess about, but to be in the limelight as an example of the best a genre has to offer, you have to be able to bring your skills out when they’re needed. This brings me to the various freestyles that Mumble Rappers have taken part in. Now before you say anything, yes I know not all rappers can truthfully “freestyle” but those rappers usually memorise some unreleased lyrics and pass them off as a “freestyle” when needed; that’s fine by me. But, when Mumble Rappers either deliver a memorised or improvised rap, the end result is tragic. This is an obvious example of how bad they are at music.

Lil Yachty freestyled over this old-school beat and it was laughable, his defence was that he can’t rap over “old” Hip-Hop but c’mon, a tempo and time signature fits over new and old music; if you can’t rap at 95bpm, you won’t be able to rap at 115bpm, that’s another lazy argument. Just listen to Yachty in this video at 22:56 for proof he can’t rap…

Lil Uzi Vert couldn’t even rap over a faster, more “contemporary” beat! Check out his cringe-worthy attempt at 12:00…

21 Savage’s so-called freestyle for XXL Magazine’s “Freshmen” (a list of the best up-and-coming rappers) is simply appalling, just take a listen…

And if you thought that was bad just take a listen to Kodak Black‘s horrid freestyle for XXL. This has to be one of the worst examples of “rapping” of all time, it’s like some drug-addicted mental patient escaped from a padded cell and wandered onto the set. If XXL think this shit is worthy of acknowledgement and appreciation, then they’ve lost their collective minds…

Hip-Hop music’s decline is very similar to how fine art devolved. Modern Art is disliked by the majority of people but thanks to the Kanye Wests and Talib Kwelis of Art, when Marcel Duchamp put a urinal in an art gallery, many people defended it and agreed that it was worthy of praise, putting a literal piece-of-piss on the same level as a detailed painting or sculpture. Yes, ‘Fountain’ was technically art, but let’s now admit that it was crap; it took no talent to create, it took no effort to make (it wasn’t even made by Duchamp), in fact any no-talent, non-artist could do it. Flash forward to the present day and because of the acceptance of trash like this, art galleries are filled with dead sharks and random items on shelves. You’re telling me that we should put an unmade bed in the same league as ‘The Persistence Of Memory’ by Salvador Dali? Almost everybody appreciates the fresco on the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel but the only people who like ‘Away From The Flock’ (a dead sheep in formaldehyde) are pretentious hipsters and conforming art students. This is what happens when you set the bar at the lowest level; you attract everybody who wants money and fame and you repel gifted people with skill. Like art, the more people that keep defending the Lil Yachtys of the Hip-Hop world, the more the genre will devolve. Yes it’s technically music, yes it’s technically Hip-Hop, but it’s so obviously bad. Let crap like this slide and watch music go the same way as fine art.

Fans of Mumble Rappers keep bringing up contrived comebacks to any criticism their false idols attract. Read the comments section under most Mumble Rap videos on YouTube and people who criticise them get told crap like “He makes more money than you”. There’s also the idiotically divisive “this is what the kids like”, the clichéd “you’re too old to get this”, or the most popular comeback “but it’s catchy”. Saying you can’t get Lil Yachty‘s hook out of your head isn’t a real defence… yeah that shit’s catchy, but so is Gonorrhoea. We don’t need any more contagious shit right now.

The way Hip-Hop is going, we’re probably only a decade away from rap becoming a one-note slur, delivered to fans by a dribbling coma patient with neon chest hair wearing a sequinned dunce-cap and a gold and diamond-encrusted catheter. And as the sound of his garbled “urrrghhh” is passed to the palliative care nurse through an autotune filter, the live stream will get a billion views and become an international hit. But remember, when that day comes and you say you dislike it, it’s not because it’s bad music, it’s because you’re too old and out of touch with the youth of the day… get the fuck out of here.

Mumble Crap.


18 replies »

  1. People that want to find carefully orchestrated music will, no matter what genre and no matter what diluted form of that genre is being spearheaded as a representation of that genre. Mumble rap is what it is, these rappers and their songs have no longevity but that’s fine, they provide a short term service and purpose. There are no mumble rappers without an audience who take interest, so maybe this should be a reflection more so on mumble raps audience rather than those who seek an opportunity to cash in on demand.
    Hip-hop will be well and fine lol, those who understand hip-hop should know this, mumble rap is a phase it will blow over then something else as odd will come about. But you see, ‘real’ hip-hop is always used as the benchmark to which these new waves are compared too. We know what it should sound like… and there will always be a few Joey’s in each era, especially with the internet.

    Btw I thought the Lil Wayne association to mumble rap was unfair, in his prime days it was pretty easy to understand Wayne lol, unless you were hard of hearing, his lyricism/puns/wordplay is nothing to be snuffed at either…. come to think of it I can’t think of any of the old hip-hip heads who had a problem with Wayne

  2. “What’s funny is that this song isn’t even the worse Mumble Rap to surface. Last summer every time my clock radio woke me up in the morning, D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty’s ‘Broccoli’ came on. In a half-woken stupor, I thought that shit was a fragment of my imagination; a garbled verse that sounded like Stephen Hawking being waterboarded”

    Nigga, I’m fucking dying hahaha.

  3. Exactly! I have been saying this for the last 2 or 3 years. Rappers are getting worse and worse. Before, they were spitting primary school rhymes. Now they are just mumbling incoherent garbage. The songs you have shown in the article are not even the worst. Desiigner made an even shittier song called “Timmy Turner”. Lil Yachty and Burberry Perry made the song “Beautiful Day” which was the worst song of the year. Autotune in excess, the song completely bastardised the nursery song. It even featured Kylie Jenner saying the word “nigga”.

    These mumble crappers never take the time to improve on their craft. What really annoys me is that you don’t see it in other professions. If you were sick and went to the GP, would you expect a doctor who doesn’t know the basics? We all know what the answer will be. In most professions, if you can’t do your job properly, you will be fired.

    I absolutely hate the “young vs old” argument because it’s bullshit. Lil Yachty is a fucking dickhead. On a radio interview with Real 923 LA, he said hip hop can do without “the old ass hating niggas”. I’m 20 and I can tell you are wack. The media defended his ass. Hip Hop can do without wack rappers like Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Future and all the rest of these lames. They are an embarrassment to Hip Hop.

  4. I’m glad you wrote this article.Rap Music mainstream or underground has become a joke and a mockery from what I grew up on.Im 26-year-old and I remember LL Cool J and Will Smith were hated. It wasn’t t because of talent and skill but because they wanted to stand out be original and let people from all ages like their music it wasn’t a young or old thing .But now OMG every amateur wants to get in the spotlight just for the hell of it.Why is that technology has been so popular that everybody wants to rap and sing but not saying something That’s positive and uplifting towards our communities and not work on their craft but worry about fame.I heard a saying don’t chase fame let fame chase you.I have music out and a. Music video and why ain’t I in.Because the media has become dumb and arrogant.I mean look who we got as president after Obama is America desparate that were becoming just like the movie Idiocracy.I hope I can finally get a chance to break out this year once and for all.I go by SpeedMack by the way go to SoundCloud thanks.

  5. I couldn’t agree with this article / blog post more . Mainstream hip hop is the worst it has ever been . Right now in 2017 . On Much Music here in Canada “Bad and Boujee” by Migos feat. Lil’ Uzi Vert (produced by Metro Boomin’ and G-Koop) is #1 on the Much Music Countdown Show . Migos and Lil’ Uzi Vert can’t rap at all . They are absolutely terrible . Still they are considered “Mainstream Hip Hop’s Future” . Fuck that noise .

    I want everybody on here to listen to this song and watch this video :

    Grhyme Family is an underground hip hop group from North Carolina . Members of the group range in age from 17 years old to 32 years old . “The Stand” was produced by DJ Kwestion . DJ Kwestion tours exclusively with Vinnie Paz . Trilian and DJ Trickalome also co-produced this track . The video has less than 4,000 views on YouTube . Any of member of Grhyme Family has better lyricism in one bar than Drake has come up with in his whole musical career spanning back to 1998 (when Drake started playing in a rich kid’s rock band in Toronto) .

    Also you should do a “What Went Right With” article on “Divine Tyrant” by Danegurous . Danegurous of Grhyme Family didn’t start out with the most lyrical talent . Over time he has drastically improved and poured his heart and soul into his music whilst honoring Hip Hop’s Traditions .

  6. “I thought that shit was a fragment of my imagination; a garbled verse that sounded like Stephen Hawking being waterboarded”. Damn, that perfectly describes my experiences with mumble rap.

  7. If a parent listened to Mystikal for instance, their kids grew up thinking that shit was acceptable and now that they’ve become adults and musicians, hey presto we’ve got Mumble Rap

    Ignore content for a second, there really isn’t anything in common between Mystikal and mumble rappers. Mystikal had a highly original style and brought a lot of energy and aggression to the mic, the exact opposite of what defines “mumble” rap.

    Probably the best comparison between that era and mumble rap is B.G. — his flow probably had the most mumble rap elements in it. While still being orders of magnitude better, of course.

  8. This segment from The Murder Master Music Show is extremely relevant to this thread . Monte Cristoe (out of Detroit) has been rapping for over 30 years .

  9. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of a dead rapper named XXXTENTACION (X for short because his name’s too long). He’s got tons of popular songs, some of which were mumble rap. They aren’t great, but his fans act like they’re blessings from God.
    “Fans of Mumble Rappers keep bringing up contrived comebacks to any criticism their false idols attract.”
    ^That is exactly what they do whenever somebody states a negative opinion about X (who they constantly call a “legend”).
    What do you think of him? I’m surprised he wasn’t mentioned on your site.

    By the way, thank you for writing this article.
    (Yesterday, I tried posting a shorter comment with the same question but it seems that it has been blocked.)

    • I think that when a musician dies, people make them out to be something they’re not. X was an average rapper at best, getting shot doesn’t make him a legend.

      I never really got into his music so I haven’t listened to that much of it and therefore can’t comment on his entire career. He seemed to be a little more lyrical than the usual mumble rappers, not quite as bad as Yachty but still nothing special in my opinion.

  10. I’m confused.Is Ski Mask the Slump God lyrical because of his flow and the lyrics to his song being verified on genius, or mumble because he clouds over his lyrics with many ad-libs? Help me out, fams.

    • He’s a strange one because when he rapped over that Missy Elliot beat, he had a decent flow but his voice was slurred, on Faucet Failure he doesn’t mumble or slur at all, and he scream-rapped in LA LA. The fact that you can’t pin his style down means he isn’t a “Mumble Rapper” but other people might disagree.

  11. Bro mumble rap is now old news, nowadays rappers like “Blueface” go offbeat deliberately and because of this some articles I have read call him “the most controversial rapper in L.A. right now”. Now that’s some fucked up shit.

    • Bruv this article was written 2 years ago. Going off-beat isn’t anything new, E-40 used to do it. But then again, Blueface didn’t go off-beat on “Daddy” so it isn’t a constant style for him (his music is still shite though).

  12. Speaking of dead overrated hacks… Juice WRLD somehow died yesterday…Now social media is abuzz with comments calling him the “goat” and “a legend” when in reality he made nothing special at all

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