Lyrical rap vs Mumble rap

Is lyricism dead? Do lyrics matter anymore? Do you prefer current pop culture(drugs,sex,alcohol) or the message and words of a song? Find out.


Sebastian Osea

It’s the age old debate—lyrical rappers versus mumble rappers. Many ask if rappers like Future, Desiigner and Lil Uzi Vert are mumbling or they just lack the lyrical prowess of rappers like Kendrick Lamar or J Cole. Mumble rap is undoubtedly the ultimate punch in the guts to hip hop purists. Others explain that this is just a result of the hip-hop Ferris wheel and rappers trying to stay on the wheel.

There are various theories of who is responsible for mumble rap, from Gucci Mane to Lil Wayne. But it always comes back to a particular song by Future in 2011, “Tony Montana.” In an interview with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, the rapper recalls the night he made the track…”I was so expletive high on this song, I couldn’t even open my mouth. When I listened back to it the next day, I was like man, what the expletive is this? But I loved it.” In another Interview with VLAD TV, Lord Jamar quoted another mumble rapper Lil Yatchy and said he could replace the words on his song to “ABCDEFG……..HIJK…LMNOP….QRS..….UV……WXY….and Z.” Some would even call It melodic and claim that melodic music will win over lyrical music any time of the day.

An argument has been made that Drake may be better than Tupac and Biggie because he has more hit records than both of them put together. However, the substance in the music of the last two is undoubtedly greater. Also, there were more great rappers during Tupac and Biggie’s time and it’s easy to look good as a rapper in a sea of bad rappers. Indeed Drake can rap and yes, there are other good rappers like SchoolBoy Q, Kendrick Lamar, and J Cole in this era but  compared to back then, the competition was much stiffer.

The main difference is simple. Lyrical rap is pure talent. It can get you to feel mad, happy, depressed. For mumble rap, you don’t have to be in a zone. You can dance to it, sing it, or just sit there. Some people claim that mumble rap has its earliest origins traced back to the 90s. Real hip-hop heads will tell you that the rhymes of Fuschnickens and Das Efx used boom bap instrumentals they used in songs such as “True Fushnick” are similar to the catchy trap beats of today. So all these new age mumble rappers might be borrowing from their hip-hop forefathers whether they realize it or not.

In my personal opinion, here’s a time and place for everything, and in some instances lyrical music would not apply in places such as the club. Other times, mumble rap just would not be your cup of tea. It all comes down to personal preference.