Over the past few years, the newest evolution of rap music, coined “mumble rap,” has taken the entire music industry by storm.
The mumble rap subgenre focuses on melody, ad-libs and repetition, and it creates songs that are more beat-centric and producer-driven. In this type of music, the concept of lyricism takes a backseat because the “feel” of the overall product is more important than conveying a message.
Artists in the new subgenre have changed the rap scene with their personas, clothes and disrespectful attitudes. Lil Yacthy dissed Biggie Smalls for being “overrated” and Kodak Black tweeted that he was “better than Tupac.”
This blatant disrespect has caused a rift between the young and old rappers in the game.
Lil Yacthy and “Pump it Up” rapper Joe Budden recently did an interview together that quickly went south.
What Budden described as “an overly passionate moment” came off as an agitated rant against Yacthy, attacking his character and creativity as an artist.
West Coast icon Snoop Dogg is also displeased with the subgenre.
In a round table interview with other artists, Snoop said, “I don’t know who created this (mumble rap), but all of them sound the same.”
All-time greats like Eminem and Rakim have likewise taken shots at the mumble rap generation. Rakim went so far as to say that this is the “devolution of rap music” and the “death of poetry.”
But why are so many opposed to this new style of rap music?
The established rappers and the legends of the game are afraid that rap music’s essence is being stripped away from what made the music great in the first place: the lyricism.
What put rap music on the map was the ability of the artist to carefully and precisely manipulate words and fit them in a 16-bar structure to match the beat effortlessly.
Artists like Chief Keef, Lil Pump and Young Thug have almost completely deconstructed what rap songs used to sound like. These artists have made their songs shorter, with more stand out beats, and lyrics that are usually heavily drug influenced. These shorter songs have more emphasis on repetition than the regular 16-bars in a traditional verse.
Yet not all traditional rappers have shunned the new kids on the block. In 2012, Chicago rapper Kanye West remixed Chief Keef’s smash hit “Don’t Like” and put mainstream music into the Chicago drill music.
Likewise, Kendrick Lamar said in his interview with Forbes “… I want hip-hop to continue to evolve.
“At the end of the day, as long as we remain true to who we are and respect what got us here, we can continue to do that,” he said.
J. Cole said that this new wave of rap music was “the end of hip-hop” as he knew it. But since that comment, he has taken on a new mindset.
He decided to take the young artists under his wing and begin to understand that they created their own wave and are having success.
What began as a death sentence is becoming a new art form within the world’s most dominant genre of music. Nevertheless, what refuses to go away and will always be the driving fuel of rap is lyricism. As long as there is a balance, then the two contemporaries can coexist and the genre can continue to evolve.