Mumble rap (often used to describe "emo rap" and "SoundCloud rap") is a loosely defined derogatory term for a group of subgenres of hip-hop that largely spread on the online audio distribution platform SoundCloud in the 2010s. Although the name implies mumbling, many rappers who have been labeled "mumble" rappers, have criticized the term as they claim they do not actually mumble in their raps, and that it is used to degrade younger rappers. The term is used exclusively as a pejorative to rappers that put little emphasis on lyricism. So called "mumble rappers'" lyrics can range from the egocentric and nihilistic to discussion of money, jewelry, sex and drugs.
|Cultural origins||Early 2010s|
Style and etymology
The term "mumble rap" was coined in 2016 by Wiz Khalifa. There is disagreement over who first rapped in such a style, although its creation has been attributed to rappers such as Gucci Mane, Chief Keef, and especially Future. The term was first used to describe rappers whose lyrics were unclear, but the use of the term has expanded to rappers that put little emphasis on lyricism. Artists such as Das EFX and Fu-Schnickens rapped in a similar style years before the term was created. "Mumble rappers" tend to talk about drugs, money, jewelry, designer clothing, and partying. Rappers labelled as "mumble rappers" also tend to use the "aye" flow, where they add words such as "yeah", "aye" and "uh" to the end or start of their lines.
"Mumble rap" is used as a derogatory term in reference to a perceived incoherence of the artist's lyrics. Oscar Harold of the Cardinal Times stated that "mumble rap" is misleading, arguing that the rappers such as Future rely more upon pop melodies and vocal affects, such as Auto-Tune, than mumbling. Justin Charity, a staff writer at The Ringer, argues that the term is unnecessarily reductive and does not in fact refer to one specific type of rapping. He wrote that many of the artists often scapegoated in conversations about the subgenre do not actually mumble, which "is the red flag that the term isn't a useful subcategorization."
SoundCloud rap scene
In 2017, music critic Jon Caramanica of The New York Times opined that SoundCloud rap "in the last year has become the most vital and disruptive new movement in hip-hop". Todd Moscowitz, the founder of Alamo Records, called the scene a "lo-fi movement" noting the heavily distorted bass and intentional lack of polish in the sound. When Ski Mask the Slump God discussed the lo-fi's genre's sound and recording techniques, he noted that "It was like the worst recording set up, [but] you could set it up anywhere and that was the wave we were on," and "The raw energy of that – the distortion – is our speciality and we used that to our advantage." Spin noted that the SoundCloud company has not been able to leverage the popularity of SoundCloud rap to improve its financial problems.
Rappers who have voiced discontent with mumble rap include J. Cole, Chris Webby, Russ, Joyner Lucas, and Eminem. On his album Kamikaze, Eminem dissed multiple "mumble rappers" after declaring that "The boom bap is coming back with an axe to mumble rap" in Royce da 5'9" song "Caterpillar". The 2018 Eminem single "Killshot" included a line where he pejoratively called Machine Gun Kelly a mumble rapper. Later in a interview, MGK denied being a mumble rapper and also said Eminem is "disconnected" thinking that he is a "mumble rapper". In rock music critic Robert Christgau's opinion, "SoundCloud rap is at least as afflicted as any other kind of hip hop with sexist rhetoric I need very good reasons to hear past." He added, "I'm way sick of the word 'bitch'", particularly disliking XXXTentacion's music for these reasons.
- A Boogie wit da Hoodie
- BlocBoy JB
- Chief Keef
- Famous Dex
- Lil Mosey
- Lil Peep
- Lil Pump
- Lil Tracy
- Lil Uzi Vert
- Lil Xan
- Lil Yachty
- Playboi Carti
- Post Malone
- Rich the Kid
- Rico Nasty
- Ski Mask the Slump God
- Trippie Redd
- Ugly God
- YBN Almighty Jay
- YBN Nahmir
- Young Thug
- Yung Bans
- Yung Lean
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