“SoundCloud rap” is dead, or at least its most popular era no longer exists. In 2018, the term “SoundCloud rap” denotes a subgenre and aesthetic more than it does a continued movement. Like porn, you know it when you see it.
The deaths of XXXTentacion and Lil Peep—two of the most prominent and influential artists in the scene—were massive blows to a generation of artists rewriting the traditional career arc of a rapper. The streaming service is still home to an entire nation of rappers inspired by the aforementioned artists. They rock colored dreads and face tattoos, sing melodies inspired by 2000s emo and pop punk, and help create further mutations of Atlanta’s trap. A lot of the music is groundbreaking; much of it is not.
Still, the artistic ecosystem of SoundCloud has rapidly shifted. Spotify’s Rap Caviar and Apple’s The A-List: Hip-Hop arguably stole much of the cultural cache once reserved for the orange and white cloud. Rappers who built their fan bases with the Berlin company have started to phase out of the system that birthed them. Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, and Juice WRLD are now legitimate, mainstream stars, driving conversation and consumption.
They’ve also inspired hip-hop’s current gold rush in the music industry.
“A lot of people thought rap was a passing fad. But it wasn’t, and now people realize they have to invest more into urban music to stay competitive,” Joie Manda, the EVP of Interscope Records, told Rolling Stone. “Major labels who don’t have executives in the company who grew up understanding the culture–I think they do just throw themselves at whatever shiny object or whatever they think is the entry point.”
SoundCloud rappers are those “shiny objects.”
Below are some of the artists that have made their name on SoundCloud, and are now going beyond it.