What The Heck Happened to Hip-Hop?

“I’m gonna show you what real hip hop sounds like!” I play Detroit vs Everybody and my 13 year old cousin just sits there disappointed, completely unappreciative of the bars Royce da 5’9 is spitting.

“Let me put my shit instead.”


Those are the lyrics of 16 year old Lil Pump, and that phrase makes up over a third (I counted) of his two minute and ten second song called (guess!) Gucci Gang. 

The Florida rapper started his career last year at the age of 15. The high school dropout has turned into a hip hop phenomena by garnering millions of hits on the music sharing platform, SoundCloud.

Although he is an extreme (and hopefully rare) case, he is part of a larger phenomenon of “mumble rap” in the hip hop genre. And the kids love it. The younger generation of listeners have lost a lot of interest in who can drop the best lyrics and instead go for whatever sounds cool and trendy.

This has been a problem for the past 5 years or so. While mumble rap can be broadly defined, it is generally characterized by lack of (or just outright incomprehensible) lyricism, excessive use of ad-libs, and lack of creativity outside of hedonistic content (e.g., drugs, woman, and money).

The Most well known kind of mumble rap is the trap music from Atlanta, popularized by Future and the Migos.  I’ll let Snoop Dogg explain to you what it sounds like.

We live in a completely different generation of rap now and that’s just the consequence of time. This “new school of rap” didn’t grow up listening to Outkast, Rakim, Tupac, MF Doom, or Biggie Smalls; and neither did their fans. It should not had been so shocking when Lil Yachty, another alleged mumble rapper, said he couldn’t name a single song by Tupac or Biggie.

Older listeners of Hip-Hop like Joe Budden will find these comments offensive to “the culture.” And maybe rightly so. However younger folks, such as me, get that this type of music was before our time.

But I don’t think that’s a totally valid excuse for this new style of music. Most of certainly did grew up listening to Eminem, possibly one of the greatest lyricist of all time. His protege 50 cent also became the top dog in hip-hop before being bested by Kanye West in album sales back in 2007.

The great thing about this era of hip-hop was that everyone was unique in their own style and put as much attention to what their music said to how well it sounded.

Kanye had his melancholy techno sound that dealt with the struggles of heartbreak and soul crushing school system.

Then you had his pupil, Scott Mescudi better known as Kid Cudi, pioneer stoner music with the hit Day n Nite on his classic debut album Man on The Moon. His deep themes of drug abuse, anxiety, and social pressure blended with Kanye-like sound has left him with a cult following even after falling out from the mainstream

And the list can go on with the likes of Nas, Jay-Z, Whiz Khalifa, Common, and so on.

By contrast, now it’s all about, as Lil Uzi put it:

It’s just lit. It’s all about being lit

Is ‘Good Rap Dead?

The simplest answer is: No

It’s easy to point out all these rappers and say hip-hop is degrading more and more but this overlooks all the very talented artists to come out in recent years.

Among them are Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Chance the Rapper, and Big Sean. And most of them have been more successful than these mumble rappers. So long as we hip-hop fans treat unique and talented, rap as the pinnacle quality and expectation; the lyrical tradition of the culture will never die, and maybe continually develop into something greater.

P.S. Check out this Joe v Yachty video, it’s still just as funny 80th time even if you’ve already seen it

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