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Mumble rap

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Mumble rap (often used to describe "emo rap" and "SoundCloud rap"[6]) is a loosely defined[7] microgenre[8] of hip hop that largely spread on the online audio distribution platform SoundCloud in the 2010s.[9] 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.[10][11] The term is often used as a pejorative to rappers that put little emphasis on lyricism.

Style and etymology[edit]

The term "mumble rap" was coined in 2016 by Wiz Khalifa.[12] 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.[7] 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.[13] "Mumble rappers" tend to talk about drugs, money, jewelry, designer clothing, and partying.[14][15] 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.[16]

"Mumble rap" is often used as a derogatory term in reference to a perceived incoherence of the artist's lyrics.[17][18] 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 effects, such as Auto-Tune, than mumbling.[19] 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."[20]

SoundCloud rap scene[edit]

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".[21] 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."[22] Spin noted that the SoundCloud company has not been able to leverage the popularity of SoundCloud rap to improve its financial problems.[23] Citing the deaths of XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, Lil Xan's entry into rehab and 6ix9ine's legal troubles, Stephen Witt of Rolling Stone magazine argued that the SoundCloud rap wave of the past few years is now in decline.[24]


Rappers who have voiced discontent with mumble rap include J. Cole,[25] Chris Webby,[26] Russ,[27] Joyner Lucas,[28] and Eminem.[29] 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".[30] The 2018 Eminem single "Killshot" included a line where he pejoratively called Machine Gun Kelly a mumble rapper. Later in an interview, MGK denied being a mumble rapper and also said Eminem is "disconnected" thinking that he is a "mumble rapper".[31] In 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.[32]

Notable artists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Weiss, Passion of the. "How To Succeed At Independent Show Promotion: A Conversation With The Masked Gorilla". Forbes. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
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  8. "The real 'Slim Shady' strikes again with latest album release | Arts & Entertainment". Theeastcarolinian.com. 2018-09-10. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
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  10. Coker, Hillary (December 5, 2017). "The Who's Who Of SoundCloud Rap". Genius. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  11. Zisook, Brian "Z". ""It's Corny": Desiigner Calls Out "Old People Talkin' That Mumble Rap"". DJBooth.net. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  12. "The Rise of 'Mumble Rap': Did Lyricism Take a Hit in 2016?". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  13. Jasmine, Alyse (2017-06-06). "Is Mumble Rap Really Such A Terrible Thing?". Vibe. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  14. "Is "Mumble Rap" Killing Hip Hop?". Mic Cheque. 2017-07-22. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  15. Mushfiqur, Shanto (2018-01-11). "Mumble Rap - Either you love it or hate it". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  16. "How The "Ayy" Flow Became The Hottest Thing In Hip-Hop". Genius. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  17. Hinebaugh, Jonah. "Mumble rap is abstract expressionism for hip hop". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  18. Lyons, Patrick. "Lil Yachty's "Teenage Emotions" (Review)". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
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  21. Caramanica, Jon (June 22, 2017). "The Rowdy World of Rap's New Underground". The New York Times.
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  23. Sargent, Jordan (July 14, 2017). "Why Soundcloud Rap Couldn't Save Soundcloud". Spin.
  24. Witt, Stephen; Witt, Stephen (2019-01-16). "Tekashi 69: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Supervillain". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  25. "What is Mumble Rap? | Features | MN2S". Mn2s.com. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  26. "Chris Webby Calls Out The Mumble Rappers In New Video "Raw Thoughts"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  27. "Russ: Mumble Rappers Will Never Go Down Among The Best Hip Hop Artists". AllHipHop.com. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  28. "Eminem & Joyner Lucas Rant About The State Of Hip-Hop On "Lucky You"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  29. "Eminem Is Frustrated With 'Mumble Rap,' According to Rick Rubin". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  30. "All the people Eminem disses on his surprise album 'Kamikaze'". NME. 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  31. Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM. "Machine Gun Kelly Breaks Down Eminem Feud, Halsey Rumors, Mac Miller's Death, Binge EP + More". YouTube. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
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  42. Battan, Carrie (1 January 2018). "Lil Xan and the Year in Sad Rap". Newyorker.com. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
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  44. "Playboi Carti Refers To Himself As Jay Electronica Of Mumble Rap". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
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