Revisiting the antics-focused phase of SoundCloud Rap
What set this era apart from the short-lived rap hits and marvels of the past was its focus on outrageous behavior online. While there were some real innovators among the band, it was an era defined by minimal musical talent including drug-induced rants, controversial interview moments, and brainless assertions (yes, Kid Buu thinks always that he’s a clone) fueled their stardom and budding rap career. . While the lives of street artists like YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Kodak Black and others have been the subject of countless YouTube videos and Twitter feeds, the quality of their music has been the catalyst for their success. But for many influencer-era artists, their talents simply pale in comparison, forcing them to depend on their wild escapades. And while TikTok introduced the world to artists like Boyboy West Coast, iLOVEFRiDAY, and even two-time Grammy winner Lil Nas X via the mega-hit “Old Town Road,” much of their early success and virality came from the millions of TikTok users and fans who used snippets of their songs for their own videos. As these videos exploded online, more people were drawn to the artists’ music and personalities, a process that differed significantly from what young artists were doing in the mid to late 2010s.
At the height of the influencer era, an artist’s lifeline hinged on their next viral moment. When their music fell on deaf ears, they relied on videos of them being kicked out of hotels, shouting their supposed “opps” and detailing the wildest times of their lives in interviews with Vlad TV. For a time, this propelled them to the top of blog feeds and into the minds of hip-hop fans. But after Tekashi69 – the industry’s top striker at the time – arrived in prison in November 2018, DJ Akademiks said the era as we knew it was over: “I’ve never seen a era like this – it’s not even out of period, this shit is just corny You can’t imagine anyone doing what [Lil Pump] was doing and what all these guys that went super-viral were doing at the time… that shit is a dub.
The influencer era’s influence began to wane after the passing of XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, and Juice WRLD, true innovators who were rising cultural figures at the time of their passing. The loss of many of the scene’s biggest stars stripped the era of much of its appeal and exposed the dangerously drug-fueled lifestyles often linked to its music, ultimately leading to the downfall by Peep and Juice WRLD. The decline was compounded by the rise of Brooklyn and New York, with artists like Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign, Sheff G, 22Gz and others flipping the hip-hop soundscape on its axis. Pop Smoke’s “Welcome To The Party” and Fivio Foregin’s “Big Drip” marked the sonic shift toward slower rhythms and a darker, grittier, more realistic aesthetic, a move that eventually forced artists from the influential era to leave the industry.
Meanwhile, a new generation of SoundCloud rappers began to emerge, with artists like Ken Car$on, SSGKobe, Yeat, BabySantana, SoFaygo and others embracing a similar aesthetic and heartbreaking rebel sound, but without the same exploits. of the era of influence. After seeing how these artists’ careers come and go, the new brigade of underground rappers eschew their stunts and focus on music: “One of the main reasons Lil Pump was so great was because of his antics” , Midwxst artist says Complex in a recent preview of the new wave of the scene. “But sometimes you have to learn, OK, you shouldn’t base your whole character on those things.” SSGKobe added: “I definitely feel like there are less gimmicks now. I feel like a lot more people are genuine in this underground scene. They are more true to themselves than trying to fit in.
Where does that leave the original Influence Era products? As their early hits and viral moments rolled around, many of these rappers failed to make major splashes on Billboard or regain the momentum they had at the peak of their powers. With their stardom on the wane, many have quit making music altogether or done so inconsistently in recent years. While artists like Lil Xan have fallen into the background due to concerns about his physical and mental health, others like Ugly God have stopped releasing music for reasons yet unknown to fans. The ‘Water’ artist, known for his salacious lyrics and brash attitude, hasn’t released another project since 2019 Bumps and bruises. In response to the YouTube clip of Off The Record podcast, which had Ugly God and six other artists on the thumbnail of the video, the Indiana-born artist sent Akademiks a tweet and asked him to stop grouping him with the other artists of the era. influence.
While artists Lil Pump and Smokepurrp have maintained their activity, their profiles have steadily declined over the years. Between the two artists, Purrp recently went viral for performing in front of a nearly empty crowd in Pontiac, Michigan for his We Outside tour. The Florida rapper dismissed the video, writing in an Instagram tour recap, “The tour was on DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE I love what I do and I’m going to give my fans a show regardless I bet they won’t post that.. WE OUTSIDE!¡”
Along with the encouragement of drug use, the era was built on virus-seeking looters like Tekashi69 who brought the tactics of online sensationalism to the streets. He mixed the two worlds, but after countless videos of the “STOOPID” artist goading his haters and taunting the authorities on social media, his antics finally caught up with him and he landed in jail for gun and racketeering charges in 2018. But even after his release in April 2020, despite Billboard. 6ix9ine’s latest project, Tattle Tales, fell massively below expectations. The 2020 album was expected to sell over 100,000 equivalent album units in its first week, but only grossed around half of that. He’s barely been heard from since, though he apparently still has enough juice to get recent single “Giné” into the lower parts of the Hot 100.
There are other artists who are stuck in a space of complacency because they haven’t musically fallen or left the minds of hip-hop fans. Names like Lil Yachty come to mind; he rebranded himself as a semi-successful rapper from Michigan and is still in demand for interviews and to perform at major festivals like this year’s Rolling Loud. Artists like Doja Cat, Trippie Redd and Playboi Carti broke the boundaries of the influence era again by continuing to write Billboard hits and maintaining the storyline they had first held as new acts. After declaring her cow status on the forgotten viral hit “MOOO!”, Doja Cat has become one of today’s biggest pop stars, and even picked up a Grammy this year for “Kiss Me More” assisted by SZA. While Trippie Redd and Playboi Carti fell short of Doja’s heights, both artists expanded their fanbases and expanded their catalogs and now sit near the top of a short list of era alumni. of influence still relevant.
To continue to capitalize on their stardom, other artists have redefined themselves or pivoted completely to other career paths. Viral sensation Bhad Bhabie burst onto TV screens in 2016 during an appearance on Dr. Phil. The ‘Gucci Flip Flops’ rapper turned her ‘Cash me outside’ moment into a music career and signed with Atlantic Records in 2017. But after the music label dropped the 18-year-old in 2021, Bhad Bhabie moved on. to OnlyFans content, and in April posted receipts showing earnings from $52 million on the subscription service. While still making waves as an entertainer, the Blueface Influence Era alum has branched out into the world of reality TV with Blue Girls Club Televisionwith the YouTube series placing the Los Angeles-born artist among the list of most talked about artists on social media and blogs like The shadow room.
The best days of the influencer era are long gone. Fans will never get to see how generational talents like XXXTentacion, Juice WRLD and Lil Peep would have fared in today’s soundscape, or if they would have kept the previous era alive, but their music has inspired other young artists to achieve their careers. heights and do it their own way. As for those who are still alive, who remain young enough to theoretically regain the musical and cultural strength they once had: can Lil Pump, Ugly God and Lil Xan ever hope to thrive outside of the ecosystem that gave them life? launched? If not, they can at least look forward to the SoundCloud rap tours that will surely appear in 10-15 years, because nostalgia is the most powerful influence of all.