Mumble Rap Ain't My Cup Of Tea, But...

by Bug One   

 I got to say- I'm getting a little tired of hearing heads my age and older complaining about it. They have no rhymes, no vocabulary, they repeat the hook over more than half the track, it has no connection to the elements of hip hop culture, and even most of the beats sound the same... I've heard all the complaints. And all the complaints are valid. But my fellow aging heads need to give it a rest. The newest, most popular crop of MCs (and I use that term loosely) aren't my cup of tea personally and their music doesn't speak to me, but it doesn't have to. Hip Hop music has always been driven by the tastes of urban youth, and to be honest, I'm a thirty-something 9 to 5er, husband, and father who's already taking cholesterol medication and planning to move out to the suburbs as soon as I get my first win fall of cash. I don't sip lean. I don't pop pills. I don't turn up. Heck, I don't even think I've stepped foot in a club since 2009. Getting my brakes done and my front porch weather proofed is my idea of a productive weekend. So I recognize I'm not part of that young crowd that the Lil Yatchy's and Uzi Verts and Travis Scotts are making music for. Let the youngin's do their thing and have their music.

   Hip Hop music itself is almost 40 years old at this point. Just the music. B-boying and graffiti art are even older. But think about Rock music when it was 40 years old. From the 50s to the 90s, it's sound evolved and changed drastically. You had classic rock, heavy metal, soft-rock, folk rock, progressive rock, grunge, alternative, punk, the list goes on...all these sub-genres of rock n roll had their time, scene, and poster children that were representative of whatever they were being labeled as. The same thing  happened with Jazz. Between the 1920s and1960s we saw the emergence of swing, big band, free jazz, ragtime, bebop, Afro-Cuban, modal, and cool jazz and they all made significant contributions to the genre.  Now I'm not saying I believe mumble rap  is going to make a lasting impression and in the year 2037 there will be documentaries made on the genius and impact of the Slime Season releases, but I am saying no genre stays recognizable and forever identifiable by it's initial audience. Looking at what's happened with other genres in the past, it's really not all that unfathomable that hip hop will, and has, split into several sub-genres. We've seen boom bap, g-funk, backpack, true-school, conscious, southern, trap, crunk, and now whatever this newest stuff is called.

   I personally like hip hop to have banging boom bap-ish, soulful beats with substantive, conscious lyrics sprinkled in with battle ready bars (I have The UN's U N Or U Out bumping in the background as I write this). But I recognize that's not what everyone wants to hear. At the same time, fellow heads and casual rap fans who often complain about the current state of rap music have to put their money where their mouths are and buy and support what they deem to be real hip hop. I'm tired of seeing 35 year olds buying Drake and Future albums so they don't look old and out of touch, and then turning around and saying "Whatever happened to all the real hip-hop? These cats wouldn't be allowed to exist if 2Pac was still alive!"

   As far as these new mumble rappers not paying respect to those who came before them, it's annoying and bothersome that there's a disconnect between rappers who are popping now and the aging class of rappers who paved the way for them and made it possible for these kids to live off their "craft". But let's be honest, most people don't idolize those who came 20 or 30 years before them. Most people look at whatever was being made during their coming of age as the standard. There's no way I will convince my parents' generation that 90s R&B could hang with, or be better than, what was being made in the Motown/Chess records era. Nor do I need to.  Every generation has their idols. I grew up on Wu Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Fugees, De La, Mobb Deep, Snoop, The Roots, Black Star, etc., and while I have a respect for who and what came before them, I don't own a single album by Whodini, Just-Ice, or the Ultramagnetic MCs (with the exception of a few singles from a golden -era rap compilation CD). I did my research and due diligence on the Slick Ricks, Kool G Raps, and KRS-Ones and even copped most of their discographies, but some cats I just never got around to. I'm saying that to say these mumble rappers shouldn't have to know every Nas verse or list Biggie and 2Pac in their top 5 dead or alive. Cause they didn't grow up on them. Something could be said for the lack of respect shown to the greats, but that's a topic for another day.

   In the meantime, let these kids rock out. Let them live. Let them grow. Let them mature. Cause one day, they'll be us.