For a few years now, Berkeley, California has been producing what is by far, some of the most inspired and polarizing hip hop to come out of the West Coast. Those familiar with the area might chalk it up to the city's rich musical history, its unique appreciation of diversity and cultural tolerance, or maybe just some wholesome, recreational drug use. In the case of a 22-year old rapper MUMBLS, you can probably blame all three. Usually intoxicated, MUMBLS unapologetically weaves tales of lust, drugs, and flat-out avoiding adulthood. The MC is pushing the envelope in ways sure to catapult him amongst the legends of his city, the ranks of which happen to include his own dad who was a member of the pioneering late 80’s quartet, The Surf MC’s. Very much so his own rapper though, MUMBLS takes cues from hip hop’s greatest storyteller’s, people like Slick Rick, Dana Dane and Ghostface Killah, the rapper whose couplets he studied like scripture while growing up.
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“I make music that I enjoy and when I look at myself I see the people who like to have a good time, party up, drink up, smoke up, whatever you got hand it over,” MUMBLS says. “But at the same time I’m trynna stimulate your mind, I want people to not be able to memorize my shit cause it’s so trippy, so only I understand it.” Describing himself as “half-Viking and half-Mexicano,” the Nor-Cal representative brings a unique perspective and style to the mic. MUMBLS’ delivery, which can be as forthright as concession speech, or dramatic to the point of vaudevillian is affecting in way that conjures heroes of glam rock like David Bowie and Marc Bolan. He’s also had the opportunity to study under Left Coast legend Andre Nickatina while handling the OG’s merchandise sales on tour.
Though MUMBLS’ sound draws most obviously from gorilla fist-heavy Bay Area slap, he treads comfortably in new wave, 16-bit soundscapes and even oversexed 90’s R&B. Most recently, he offers his Hella Novellas album, a free project whose stories detail the long days and late nights of someone transitioning into their calling, but also resigned not to miss the good times that his charm entitles him to. Hella Novellas is all dexterity, from “Say Hello”s Mac Dre-like playfulness, MUMBLS sounding like a woefully aggressive Method Man on “Glass Graveyard” or his displaying bouncy Midwest chops for “Piece of my Crumb.” Featuring production from rapper/producer Smoov-E, frequent collaborator Logan Foreal and fellow Bay Area upstart, IamSu, Hella Novellas is like “the album before the album,” an untitled retail project coming this spring. “What’s cool about it is that the more I make music and the more people I meet, shit is just going to replenish, all these stories are just gonna get crazier and crazier.”