Rittz Talks Origins of Mumble Rap, Authenticity, & ‘Down For Mine’

Sep 29 2017

Hip-hop is a dynamic, ever changing force. As the art from grows and evolves, old trends and styles die, making way for new sounds, new voices, and new approaches.

Evolution is necessary for survival, but despite the consistent change, a rare constant seems to be where these new sounds originate.

The South….particularly Atlanta.

The home of some of the most influential artists hip-hop (Outkast, Ludacris, T.I.), Atlanta’s new generation is again at the forefront of rap, but they are taking it in a different direction with what has been dubbed, “Mumble rap.”

The subtly pejorative term is likely to send a shiver down the spine of those fans (and artists) who adhere to the teachings of the founding fathers of hip-hop, including the aforementioned Atlanta emcees as well as Strange Music’s own, Rittz.

Even as a Gwinnett County native, surrounded by  triplet flows and trap beats, Rittz has stayed true to the fundamentals of hip-hop, but his Atlanta roots have offered him a unique perspective on the new era of “mumble rap” and one he shares on his latest effort, “Down For Mine.”

Never one to mince words nor ride the current wave, you might think Rittz is an opposing force to the very sound out of his hometown, but a conversation spanned by “Down For mine” proved otherwise.

In what might surprise some staunch purists, it isn’t the Atlanta-bred style itself he takes umbrage with, but the inauthenticity of the sound being adopted by aliens of the ATL.

As an Atlanta native, can you explain the origins of the “mumble rap” sound?

Atlanta has originated the sound, but it’s a southern accent. That’s how dudes talk. Sometimes the more it sound like people can’t understand what a person is saying the cooler they sound. The more certified.

Along with it, people drinking lean and all that shit that came from Texas and spread all throughout. I think it became one of those things, the more you sounded like your actual accent on the telephone that’s what it was.

It wasn’t necessarily called mumble rap. It was really just hood rap; how peoples accents are. Problem is you got people who don’t have those accents now trying to sound like that and do those sounds. That’s what’s called mumble rap and, to me, took it to a really bad place.

I like lyrics anyway, I’m a lyricist, so I automatically like lyrical rappers and most lyrical rappers are gonna speak a little clearer.

But I also like authenticity and street shit, when it’s real.  Sometimes you get fascinated by someone’s image or the realness and it comes through in the music, even if that’s not the environment you’re from.

When it’s authentic I don’t have a problem with it.

I do have a problem with the cadence. Migos kind of started that cadence, Migos and Future, but I wish some of these people would switch the cadence up a little bit. Everyone from everywhere from every state is using the cadence…. It’s just ridiculous.

What influence if any does it have on you?

It influences me to stay in tune with what’s hot. I keep it in mind, but I don’t think it really influences me. I listen to what new words are cool and what people are using and it might come into play sometimes. It’s always in the back of my mind, you always want to stay current, whether you are gonna talk bad about ’em or let them influence me. If anything, it fuels me to turn it back around.

Some of those dudes that rap like that can actually rap but it’s cool to not pronounce your words right.

It’s just annoying to hear someone that does it…like me, I speak like this and then if I started speaking a whole different way when I rap it’s like “what the hell?”

Even out of curiosity, have you ever wanted to try that style?

No. not at all. Because all it would sound like is my homies rappin’. It wouldn’t be me at all. It would be cool just to joke round with it. I actually did it on “Slow To me” off Collabs it was fun.

You actually touched on this on “Down For Mine” correct?

On “Down for Mine” I just wanted to touch on it, “you take words and pronounce em bad sound like you have an accent. Really that’s in?”

People are purposely mispronouncing their words and and sound like you have different accent; it’s just whack as shit.

If you from California sound like you from California, if you from New York sound like you’re from New York. Do whatever you want its music, and if there were just certain artists that did it…but it’s overdone.  Let’s get a little diversity in the different regions.

The point Rittz makes is an important one to maneuver the current rap climate.  There isn’t inherently a problem with the “mumble rap” sound but with how pervasive, commercialized, and globalized it has become. What matters more than whats someone says or how they say it is that there is conviction and authenticity.

But still, while there may be flaws in hip-hop, it’s those flaws that make artists like Rittz, ones who are emphasize authenticity and stay true to hip-hop’s roots regardless of what’s in all the more special.