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. But why is the drug influence so heavy in the subcultures?

Studies by university professors have foundPeople tend to form peer groups with those who share their own cultural preferences, which may be symbolised through interlinked musical and substance choices.’

Scientific studies have also been performed to find the link between particular styles of music and the listener’s experience and how it is effected via a particular type of drug. Amphetamines, in which are widely taken in both the grunge movement and modern Soundcloud rap movement have been proven to have psychological and physiological effects of music in general. However, different types of music have been found to induce different neuroendocrine changes. A study was performed in 1998 on techno-music, in which is incorporated in Soundcloud rap. The study found ‘listening to techno-music induces changes in neurotransmitters, peptides and hormonal reactions, related to mental state and emotional involvement’. This means that ‘personality traits and temperament may influence the wide inter-individual variability in response to music.’

This relates back to the concept of a subculture and its influence as a ‘cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.’
Therefore, If a group of people listen to a particular style of music and are influenced by the aesthetic of the genre,  the drug intake only has a minor influence on the subculture, as ‘Drugs are one, often minor, component of a broader identity and an important means of distinguishing the group from others.’

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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