If you've listened to any hip-hop radio stations, been to a bar or club, or been on the internet in the last year, or so, you've probably noticed a growing trend in the genre. As of late, a multitude of rappers have made their way through the clutter of countless mixtapes by trying to perfect a new delivery: the mumble.
Now, mumbling rappers are nothing new to rap, emcees have been doing it for years to compensate for bad flow and lyricism. Until now, that trait has never been the cornerstone for gaining listeners, or just being able to launch a career in general.
The mumble can be easily associated with the South, for about any genre of music that comes from it due to a specific drawl; and, of course, the grunge bands that came from the Northwest in the early 90s.
The issue at hand, though, is that in hip-hop, coherence is pretty essential to the music. The overall package delivered to you is bookended by a beat, but the importance of understanding the lyrics is what makes rap music one of the most popular genres in America.
Rappers are now beginning to sonically challenge what you may be able to hear, or in this case, decipher. Chicago's own, Chief Keef, is arguably the one guy who put this type of psuedo-flow on the radar.
Keef has dominated this corner of the industry. Mumble mixed with autotune. It shouldn't work, but it does. It's so uniquely different (or awful, depending on who you talk to) from the rest of the rap landscape, that it has spawned an exorbitant amount of guys trying to duplicate it.
This is where we see the South, most predominantly Atlanta, trying to put their spin on the sound. What we get is the task of trying to blend harmonies in with the mumbled verses. Case and point, Young Thug. Equal parts Boosie and Lil Wayne, he's been on a rapid come up in a market that has been saturated with massive club bangers that have found their way out of the metropolitan South, and into rotation in New York, Miami and LA.
The South has always been full of guys making careers out of this sound. More recently, it has developed from ability to establish a niche and replicate someone else's (Keef's) sound. In the past, it was majorly attributed to lean (Codeine and Sprite/sizzurp/purple drank) and the culture that was established in cities like Memphis (Project Pat and Three 6 Mafia) and Houston (UGK, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and more recently RiFF RaFF).
While the sound is mostly associated with the Midwest and the South currently, the sub-sound will pop up on the coasts, as long as people are getting feature verses. So, while you may hardly understand a damn word that's being said, the mumble isn't going anywhere any time soon. This is a movement, even though their mouths hardly make one.