The term “mumble rap” originated last year when Wiz Khalifa came up with it to criticize the musical style of a new crop of rappers. It’s… well, it’s self-explanatory. It’s rappers who mumble what sounds like gibberish over syrupy trap beats. They have a voice like Courage the Cowardly Dog trying to explain a scary situation while they’re delivering lines with a retro Cosby “zippitty zip zop” cadence whilst we sit there in confusion.
I’m not here to neither celebrate nor condemn mumble rap; I’m just here to… investigate. I’m a painfully white bread hip-hop detective on a mission.
One of the most prominent mumble rappers is Young Thug, who’s arguably the face of the sub-genre and is just as famous for his unapologetically flamboyant public image as he is for his bizarre music. There’s also Lil Yachty, the teen with red cornrows who sounds suspiciously similar to Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And obviously there’s Future, but in his defense, he might be hopped up on so much Xanax and cough syrup that the mumbling is just an accident.
Many people LOATHE mumble rap. Furious oldheads tweet obsessively about it, hating it like Hitler hated Hanukkah and waxing nostalgic about the good old days of Biggie and 2pac before they both retired and became farmers (that’s what happened, right?). During the 2016 election, both Trump and Hillary promised to abolish mumble rap. Gary Johnson didn’t know what it was.
But there are also people who defend its unique ballsiness as a weird but entertaining breath of fresh air. Young Thug apparently walks into the studio with shapes and abstract drawings in his notebook as opposed to planned lyrics. He arguably uses his voice as an instrument, spewing gibberish at a shockingly catchy rhythm with great melody and stringing lines together with a trippy effect. In The Rap Year Book (TFM is a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program and may receive a commission on purchases), a hilarious book declaring and dissecting the most important rap song of each year since 1979, the author chose Young Thug’s hit single “Lifestyle” as the most important rap song of 2014, comparing YT’s rapping to spilling his soul by vomiting paint onto a canvas and wondering if maybe Young Thug is the first rapper that doesn’t even need words.
Recently, Lil Yachty unintentionally spit the greatest lyric of all time when he said “she blow that dick like a cello.” He defended the line by saying he mistakenly thought the cello was a woodwind instrument, saying, “I fucked up. I thought Squidward played the cello. He don’t. That’s a flute.” Squidward actually plays the clarinet, but that doesn’t change the fact that Lil Yachty is now officially the greatest rapper of all time.
So do I enjoy mumble rap? I’m not sure. The lyrics are nothing special (and 75% of the time you can’t even hear them), but it’s catchy. I will say to anyone thinking it’s “ruining rap,” believe me — mumble rap is a trend that will be dead soon, sharing a graveyard with crunk music (YEAH! OKAY!) in the not-so-distant future.
But now, most importantly, it’s time to go hit the club and ask girls if they wanna blow your dick like a cello..
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