The term ‘Mumble Rap’ is a phrase thrown around often in today’s rap climate as a means to describe a musical sub-genre of Hip-Hop that is widely frowned upon. Many Hip-Hop fans view mumble rap as a metaphorical disease poisoning the genre they cherish so very much. That is why when one of these people find out that one of your favorite rappers to listen to is Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug or, most notably, Lil Yachty, they look at you as if you have just gotten into rap yesterday.
When we look at the artist known as Lil Yachty, over the past year he has become sort of a figurative martyr for the ‘Mumble Rap’ epidemic. This has led to millions of people who despise what ‘Mumble Rap’ stands for to channel their pure frustrations in the form of scathing comments on social media and even in documented radio segments (Funk Master Flex for example).
Granted, Lil Yachty staying in the spotlight while making proclamations such as infamously stating that New York rap legend Notorious B.I.G being overrated doesn’t help his stance with rap purists, the question we all need to ask ourselves is: does Lil Yachty being so controversial with these claims signify an ushering of a new era in Hip-Hop? Before you answer, let’s look at some of his ideologies:
Yachty has stated on several occasions… that he doesn’t consider himself your textbook ‘rapper’, shunning traditional rap cornerstones such as freestyling for media and paying homage to greats that have come before him. With these radical views on a storied genre, it’s easy to write Yachty off as a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ scenario. The only problem is he has shown nothing but elevation in his short time on the rap scene; breaking glass ceilings many of his ‘Mumble Rap’ compadres haven’t been able to. He has arguably evolved past a one-genre hot topic to a budding pop culture phenomenon appearing in commercials for industry heavy hitters such as Sprite and Target, speaking with CNN about co-signing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 American presidential race, and becoming the creative director of the famous American apparel brand Nautica.
To have this on your resume at the young age of 19 is nothing short of a remarkable feat. Despite his non-musical accomplishments, the gripe people have with Lil Yachty’s music is the seemingly un-thought out nature of his creative process, which results in up-beat, ‘bubble-gum trap’-esque music. It completely ignores any conventional Hip-Hop hallmarks like layered story-telling or social and racially charged topics and trades those qualities in for happy-go-lucky anthems about only wanting a certain girl for just one night.
“If you look at Hip-Hop’s history – and music history as a whole – both are riddled with stories of artist innovation, followed by criticism, and then benevolent hindsight.”
Undeniably, Yachty chooses to walk a path normally shunned in this genre – but is that such a bad thing? If you look at Hip-Hop’s history – and music history as a whole – both are riddled with stories of artist innovation, followed by criticism, and then benevolent hindsight. Some of Music’s greatest stories begin with musical acts interpreting a genre in different lights regardless of that interpretation being praised or trashed. One of music’s most cherished groups, The Beatles, showed us how important experimentation can pay off in the long run with a lot of the way artists make music today being credited to the off-kilter way they played with effects on their voice and instruments, unheard of in their time.
I’m definitely not making a case for Lil Yachty being a “black beatle”, but I am trying to show how choosing to walk a different path from your forefathers can pay off in the future. Whether Lil Yachty will be that change or inspire someone down the line to expound on different ways to interpret Hip-Hop is completely up to time, but the fact that millions of people enjoy his music is enough to let this dude rock whether you’re one of his listeners or not.
credit to HipHopDX for the featured image and title.