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SoundCloud Rap

SoundCloud Rap

SoundCloud Rap is a term used to describe artists rise to prominence on the SoundCloud platform. [23]Although a number of different sub-genres of hip-hop exist on SoundCloud, the music circulating on the platform has been characterized by its lo-fi sound and artists increasingly punk rock persona. SoundCloud Rap has been described as the most vital and disruptive new movement in hip-hop. [23]


Lil Peep in his music video "benz truck"

Lil Peep in his music video "benz truck"

SoundCloud was launched in September of 2007 but did not become a popular service until the mid-2010s. The platform provided artists and musicians from all genres an opportunity to reach a mass audience with a low barrier to entry. [23]The term "SoundCloud Rap" first started to appear and gain traction in 2010 and steadily rose over time. [-1]Although calling someone a "SoundCloud Rapper" has been interpreted as an insult, there is a stark difference between that and the term "SoundCloud Rap" which has a much intricate and deeper meaning. [23] [21]

The term SoundCloud Rapper describes a mediocre musician that creates menial songs for an extremely small audience, averaging less than 100 streams.

[-1]SoundCloud Rap is a term that capsulizes a wider movement developing in hip hop as a whole where artists are foregoing the traditional major label route and have much more freedom to experiment with their sound.

SoundCloud Rap often crosses genres and often bleeds over into punk rock, standing in stark contrast to the smoothness of Drake-era R&B/Hip Hop hybrid sound that has populated the airwaves for the majority of the 2010s. [23]The decentralized nature of the platform and creative freedom that rappers have on it make SoundCloud one of the most disruptive forces in the music industry today.

Many who are considered part of SoundCloud Rap movement have created music that crosses genres.

One of the most notable of these is Lil Peep whose brand of new emo is reminiscent of the Pop punk / Alternative rock bands of the 2000s such as Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, etc. Several songs on XXXtentacion's project Member's Only, Volume 3 such as "Find Me Intro" are clearly more rock than rap. Bones has a completely different alter-ego, Surrenderdorothy, and releases music that is categorized in the acoustic genre.

Early Influences: Early 2010s

Soulja Boy

Lil B

Lil B meme of the cooking dance

Lil B meme of the cooking dance

One of the first trailblazers to set the stage for SoundCloud Rap was Lil B. At He was one of the first artists to utilize the internet and social media to engage with his fans and prolific music output, going on to release a substantial number of mixtapes and thousands of songs for free. [0]

Lil B was one of the first "meme" rappers to grace cyberspace.

His "Based" lifestyle served as the foundation for the phrase "Thank You Based God", which has gone on to be replicated in hundreds of variations of memes.

Often times, Lil B would encourage fans to collect "rare" memes.

Lil B pioneered the term "swag" and his unorthodox style of pretty boy swag would influence the attire for rappers that would come after him.

[2] [7]

Musically, the sound that Lil B created with Clams Casino characterized by dreamy riffs, melodic bass, and lack of formal structure in lyrics which became known as Cloud rap. His resistance to sign to a major label and lack of a major radio hit did not hinder his relationship with his fans, and gave him more control over the output of his music. [6]


In the early 2010's, SpaceGhostPurrp of Miami led a collective of rappers and creators known as the Raider Klan that would influence the sound and tone of SoundCloud Rap. What would became known as phonk, would take samples from 90s era hip-hop labels like Houston's Screwed Up Records and Memphis' Hypnotize Minds and distort it using the chopped and screwed technique to create a dark and murky lo-fi sound that is utilized by many who are apart of SoundCloud Rap today. [21] [10]

Off the internet and in real life, the Raider Klan SpaceGhostPurrp created and helped organize and establish South Florida as a blossoming hub of hip-hop.

After having beef with former Raider Klan members and A$AP Mob, SpaceGhostPurrp fell out of favor with many of his fellow peers. Yet, the foundation he established both with his sound and with the South Florida scene he helped create has spawned a fury of prominent SoundCloud rappers from the area including Xxxtentacion, $ki Mask the Slump God, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Pouya, Fat Nick, Wifisfuneral, Kodak Black, and Denzel Curry.

Chief Keef

Chief Keef counting money while smoking a blunt

Chief Keef counting money while smoking a blunt

Chief Keef's use of the "Aye" flow has influenced many SoundCloud Rappers after him.

By effectively saying "Aye" inbetween lays, Keef created a melodic transition for his songs to flow between lines and verses, and has been copied in different variations by Lil Uzi Vert, Fetty Wap, Xxxtentacion, etc. Bang 2 is considered one of the most influential projects due to its use of slurred words, repetitive hooks, and cartoonish ad-libs. He was under the heavy influence of lean and Xanax and his words were unintelligible. Although critics slammed Bang 2 as being unpolished, this experimental phase of Chief Keef's career stretching the intelligibility of lyrics as well as his unconventional flows was studied and copied by artists after him. [20]

Later Influences: 2013-2016

Black Kray

Yung Gleesh

Nature of SoundCloud Rap

Roots in Punk Rock

A prominent trait of rappers who utilize SoundCloud on the internet is the punk rock nature of the scene's music.

Jimmy Duval, known for co-producing Xxxtentacion's biggest hit "Look at Me", comments that "When I first met all these kids, these kids looked 10% punk... As the sound got bigger, their image got bigger with the sound." [23]Alamo Records founder Todd Moscowitz, whose roster includes SoundCloud Rap artists such as Smokepurpp and Wifisfuneral, likened the content of the music to "Seventies punk rock, but the style parallels closer to the home-brewed Nineties lonerism of bands like Sebadoh or Guided By Voices." [21]In addition, one of the founders of Miami's Rolling Loud Festival, "You go to a show, and it's a punk rock show... They wanna rage, they wanna sweat, they wanna scream." [23]Performances by artists like Bones, $uicideboy$, Xxxtentacion, and more are marked by mosh pits and aggressive behavior, sometimes resulting in violence. $ki Mask the Slump God and Xxxtentacion were both jumped on stage during separate performances. [32] [33]XXXtentacion also punched a fan in the face in the crowd at one of his shows. [34] Wifisfuneral had to be transported to the hospital after being beaten by people in the crowd after an unsuccessful stage dive. [23]

Sound and Song Characterization

$uicideboy$ performance showcased in the "Paris" Music Video

$uicideboy$ performance showcased in the "Paris" Music Video

The sound that characterizes SoundCloud Rap has been described by Moscowitz as a "'lo-fi movement,' due to the music's heavily distorted bass, D.I.Y. sensibility and intentional lack of polish."

[21]The movement is fundamentally rooted in mid-nineties hip-hop labels such as Houston's Screwed Up Records and Memphis' Hypnotize Minds.

[21]An example of this is the frequent use of Three 6 Mafia samples of $uicideboy$ in their tracks. [11]In addition, a noticeable trait found across SoundCloud Rap is the short length of the songs. Tracks rarely go over two minutes or have more than one or two versus.

Prevalence of Drugs


Drug use is widely presented in the music videos and lyrical content of SoundCloud Rap.

Although every sound has it's drugs of choice tied to it, SoundCloud rap has its own unique drug culture.

Along with a substantial amount of Marijuana and Purple drank being consumed in video content related to the movement, Xanax is one of the more popular drugs of choice. Some examples of this is Lil Pump's Xanax cake to celebrate 1 million followers on Instagram and Famous Dex's "Xans" music video. [29] [-1] Yet, not every rapper is enthusiastic about the prominence of xanax in SoundCloud Rap culture. Bones is his song "Taking out the Trash" criticized the use of pills saying "I don't pop Xanax because pills are for pussies, Never scared of being human, I ain't 'fraid of feeling feelings." [35]

Since the deaths of Lil Peep and Fredo Santana, the scene has slowed down in the promotion of drug use. Smokepurpp tweeted "we leaving xanax is 2017" to Travis Scott's approval. [38] Lil Pump posted on Instagram that he does not take xans anymore. [38]On November 19th, 2017, Lil Xan tweeted that "Xanarachy is an Anti xan movement". [39]

Internet Culture of SoundCloud Rap

No Jumper

Called the Paris Review of SoundCloud Rap by the New York Times, the No Jumper podcast hosted by Adam22 has introduced a number of SoundCloud artists before they reached wide acclaim and popularity. For almost a decade, Adam22 has run The Comeup, a BMX blog and documenting BMX culture for years. He had his own BMX podcast for a while but transitioned to hip hop in 2015. Set in the back of his ONSOMESHIT store, some of the personalities that Adam22 has interviewed Xxxtentacion, Lil Yachty, Pouya, $uicideboy$, Smokepurpp, Wifisfuneral, Cole Bennett, Warhol.ss, and more. Adam22 often feature the artists and his crew in his No Jumper Vlog and is extremely active on Twitter. [14]

DJ Akademiks

DJ Akademiks is considered to be the King of Gossip in not only the Soundcloud rap world, but in hip-hop in general. With over 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube, 850K followers on Twitter, and 659K followers on Instagram, Akademiks regularly updates his accounts with news, gossip, and commentary. [40]


Xavier Wulf's music video for "The Hollow Squad" produced by HIDDEN BEHIND LEAVES

Xavier Wulf's music video for "The Hollow Squad" produced by HIDDEN BEHIND LEAVES

Another platform where SoundCloud Rap thrives is on YouTube. Similar to SoundCloud, YouTube has a low barrier to entry and allows rappers to reach millions of potential fans. In addition, the visual aspect offers a new medium of expression for artists to communicate their work. A common theme among SoundCloud artists is the prevalence of anime. YouTube channels like HIDDEN BEHIND LEAVES, Blood Mist Visuals, Ape Trvp Visuals 猿, play SoundCloud Rap over anime productions of artists such as Xxxtentacion. [17]

Fan Engagement and Memes

Artists based on SoundCloud are extremely active on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram. Their constant updates and interaction with fans make them much more accessible than what artists have been historically. Furthermore, the artists have become memes in themselves. Their flamboyant personas and larger than life actions are documented on Instagram and Snapchat. In addition, fans create memes of them that are replicated across social media. A group on Facebook called G U CC I G A N G is a breeding group for a number of these memes as well as Twitter and Reddit. [9]


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Citation Linktwitter.comLil B says to collect this photo
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Citation Linkquora.comQuoraanswer to the background of "Thank You Based God"
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Citation Linkeveripedia-storage.s3.amazonaws.com$uicideboy$ performance showcased in the "Paris" Music Video
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Citation Linkeveripedia-storage.s3.amazonaws.comLil B on an ESPN program
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Citation Linkmedium.comArticle about Lil B's influence on Rap
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Citation Linkeveripedia-storage.s3.amazonaws.comLil Pump and Smokepurpp throwing money with women
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Citation Linkfacebook.comG U CC I G A N G FacebookGroup
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Citation Linkyoutube.com$uicideboy$samples of Three 6 Mafia
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Citation Linktrends.google.comGoogle Trendsof SoundCloud Rap
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Citation Linkurbandictionary.comSoundCloud Rapper in Urban Dictionary
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Citation Linktheguardian.comChance the Rapperinfluence on the music industry
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Citation Linkbillboard.comChance the Rapper's success without a major label
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Citation Linklocalsavage.comArticle's about Chief Keef's influence
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