Smells Like Drug Influence

Ah, Soundcloud rap, what a unique genre and a humorous topic to try to explain to your elders at family gatherings.

Soundcloud rap can only be defined as a genre of music that started from the music sharing site Soundcloud. Underground rap artists would upload their original content to create publicity for themselves and share and grow on social media.

This style of music eventually became a genre with a specific aesthetic to follow.

The main aesthetic of a Soundcloud rapper in which has taken a generalised stereotype involves beginning your stage name with ‘lil’, a specific hairstyle that usually involves short dreadlocks coloured a bright colour and copious amount of tattoos, predominantly on the face.

The music itself has been described many times as ‘mumble rap.’ It consists of a basic beat and lyrics “sung” by a rapper while under the influence of pharmaceuticals such as Xanax or Lean (soft drink and cough syrup mixed). The drugs have had a major influence on the genre of music, with drug themes incorporated in music production and lyrics.

Although this genre is the first of it’s kind, its not the first time drugs have influenced a new type of music genre. Almost 30 years ago in the early 90s, a new experimental music genre of grunge was morphed from the remnants of the glamour of the 80s. On the frontier of this genre was Kurt Cobain, creating a Nirvana (pun intended) for angsty teens to hate the world with an alternative rock soundtrack. The grunge aesthetic was a dystopian American high school atmosphere where everyone hates everyone and everything, and no one wants to be alive.


Soundcloud rap, although in a completely different ball park musically, is compared to Nirvana’s grunge movement in the early 90’s for the radicalisation of contemporary society and, of course, the drug influence on the music.

Soundcloud rap artists alike Lil Uzi Vert, who has been compared to Kurt Cobain as Frank Guan explains by calling Lil Uzi Vert  ‘another drug-dependent rock star who, by cobbling together a disheveled new aesthetic through which he could transmit his personal misery with unprecedented intimacy and simplicity, became extremely famous — and also even more miserable.’

The similarity between the genres also ironically lies in these millennial artists referring to themselves as ‘Rockstars’ like Cobain and tagging their music on Soundcloud as ‘Alternative Rock’. 

Lil Uzi Vert’s song ‘XO Tour Llif3’  has been compared to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in the sense it has become one of many anthems for the genre.

The influence of drugs is incorporated in Soundcloud rap when producing music and presenting to the public, creating the genre’s sound and aesthetic, as Kurt Cobain infamously died from suicide under the influence of heroin, Soundcloud rap has similarly had an artist, Lil Peep (who has also been compared to Kurt Cobain), pass away from drug overdose on Xanax, a drug widely taken throughout the new age rap community. 

Lil Uzi Vert was one of the first to express ending the drug consumption as Lil Peep’s death has been a wake-up call for the Souncloud rap community. 

The rap community has taken it online to create awareness of the dangers of drugs such as lean and Xanax and have openly talked about quitting drugs on social media.
Other artists alike Mozzy has also taken action to stop the consumption of Lean by starting a #kickdakupchallenge hashtag on instagram  to promote it’s dangers within the community.

Is Soundcloud Rap just a blip in the drug-made music cycle? And furthermore, in 30 years when the cycle completes again, what kind of music and aesthetic will be developed from what kind of addictive substance for our children to delve in?


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