hey everyone! i don't usually post a lot in general, and when i do its mostly poetry. but i'm looking for an excuse to procrastinate, and we've got a big emo rap discussion in the 2019 predictions...
i don't usually post a lot in general, and when i do its mostly poetry.
but i'm looking for an excuse to procrastinate, and we've got a big emo rap discussion in the 2019 predictions thread going, so I was inspired (and caffeinated) enough to share my top 10 emo rap tracks of 2018 with you all!
- "Get Dressed" x Cold Hart
if there's one phrase, brand, collective, namesake that you should be expecting to hear time-and-again over the next few years, it's the "GothBoiClique". the musical collective that brought us Lil Peep is absolutely filled-to-the-brim of other creative, first-moving, and prolific emo-inspired rappers, like our man here, Cold Hart.
where as a good number of popular emo rap songs (XXXTentacion's "Jocelyn Flores" or Juice WRLD's "Lucid Dreams" come to mind) are particularly more sad, sombre, and dark - Cold Hart is a consistent reminder that there is still joy to be found in dark times.
his music typically more inspired by the alternative rock and emo music of the early 2000s, and all the while touching on some sad topics, is more often than not found to be using his music to celebrate life, love, friendship, and the alternative subculture.
"Get Dressed" is a modern emo anthem, and a perfect song to rally the troops of the GothBoiClique. a cute, uplifting song about a guy with a crush, produced by other GBC members Fish Narc and Yawns, and references to Lil Peep's "Hellboy" album is a perfect reflection of where emo is in 2018, and a reminder that GBC is on the rise.
- "EVERYTHING IS FINE" x scarlxrd
this new single from the British up-and-comer "scarlxrd" has been making big rounds in the underground - and been doing great work to hype-up his coming 2019 album, "Infinity."
we've seen screamed vocals begin to make their way into the modern rap scene - most popularly exemplified in songs like "GUMMO" x 6ix9ine, or "Ultimate" x Denzel Curry. scarlxrd has adopted this style, and been one of the biggest proponents of screamed vocals in the underground.
this song shows scar reflecting on a previous relationship, and the current state of his mental health - dripping in emo lyricism, and heavily metal-inspired lyrics
- "Nike Just Do It" x Bladee
Music Video (your volume is fine - there's just silence at the beginning)
alright, so let's talk about this album really quick.
the name of the artist might sound familiar.
that's because the album that this song was on is Anthony Fantano's #5 worst album of 2018.
give the first 30-60 seconds a listen, and come back. odds are you'll agree - and i really can't argue with that, hahaha.
but - hear me out, because this song is actually pretty important.
Bladee is one of two frontrunners of an emo rap collective in Sweden - most commonly referred to as "Drain Gang". this collective is made up of a few members - Bladee of course, Thaiboy Digital, Ecco2k, Yung Sherm, and a guy named Yung Lean.
the last name might sound a bit familiar, because little Leandoer was actually one of the first people to bring attention to cloud rap, vaporwave aesthetics, and modern emo rap with his releases in 2013 like "Ginseng Strip 2002".
his style and delivery has greatly influenced Bladee, and definitely shows in the cloudy delivery, and emo-influenced lyrics.
i like this song for the same reason that i like the previous one from Cold Hart. yes, it touches on tough subjects. where Cold Hart's track touched on unrequited love from a crush, this track from Bladee touches on deathwishes, drugs, money, and suicide.
but - you pair these themes, the supremely cloudy acid-rap beat, and the lightheared air with which it's all put together - and what you have is a depression-aesthetic song meant to help people just get by, catch a vibe, and have a good time.
what i'm saying, is that this song is the musical equivalent of all of the depression and suicide memes of 2018. things suck, people are broke, people are sad, but damnit life does go on, and we gotta keep on waking up - so we might as well laugh off our own struggle whenever we can.
- "PPL THT I LUV THE MOST" x 93FEETOFSMOKE
this song was a big surprise to me - and almost nearly didn't come across my ears to make this list! i'd just discovered both this song, and 93FEETOFSMOKE himself a month ago - but on my first listen, i was hooked.
the raw, sad lyrics are painted on top of relatively simple music - almost as a way to make you focus onto what's being said, and how it's being delivered. the half-screamed quarter-sang quarted-spoken-word lyrics are reminiscent of the hardcore rock scene, and bring me memories of songs like "Such Small Hands" x La Dispute and "I Am In Great Pain, Please Help Me" x Crywank
it's songs like this, and a number of others on this list, that give me confidence in the future of emo rap - not solely because of the subgenre's commercial success, or the quick rise in popularity of some of it's more popular artists, but because of how well the essence of emo rock is captured, and exactly how many different areas of emo are drawn from across different artists, albums, and
- "Will He" x Joji
from the same man that brought us:
Hair cake (warning: Gross)
Pink Guy - "STFU"
and the Harlem Shake
we have the first major single from rising emo rap artist - Joji.
this song is a muted, solemn message to a former lover - peppered with regret, mystery, melancholy, and suicide.
we see the song somehow very bluntly, yet very smoothly pay it's respects to the bi-polar nature of breakups, and the need to take care of oneself, whilst also wanting to still take care of your former partner, the anxiety of wondering if they're in good hands, and the pain of knowing that you cannot ask - that these questions are to remain unanswered.
the music video seems to show the aftermath of a house party gone wrong - a woman in a blood-stained cupid costume on the floor, someone in a panda costume passed out, and Joji - fading and nodding in a bathtub full of blood. in my own interpretation - I would take this to signify the feelings of withdrawal after an important relationship has come to a close.
- "Lucid Dreams" x Juice WRLD
by far the most popular emo rap song of the year, i have to mention Lucid Dreams for it's commercial success, and it's introduction of emo rap to millions of new listeners.
even though it can be an eye-roller, given how much this song gets played at parties, on the radio, in your Spotify recommendeds (you really should get Premium) - this song does deserve attention as being one of the more well-written emo rap songs of the year.
within the realm of emo music, it's very easy to fall into the trap of #imfourteenandthisisdeep as we struggle to find the right words to describe loneliness, anxiety, depression, loss, and the other complex topics that we may find ourselves in the midst in.
one of the reasons this song was so successful, i feel, is because of how absolutely blunt, clear, and to-the-point the lyrics were. it takes no second of meditation to understand lines like
I still see your shadows in my room
I take prescriptions to make me feel a-okay
Who knew evil girls had the prettiest face?
these lyrics make the song inherently biting, direct, and most importantly, digestible as the mass market starts to put their headphones on. this was a song written to be inherently relatable, expressed the emotions behind emo music in a modern package, and helped to cement the place of emo rap in the current musical zeitgeist.
- "In Providence" x Wicca Phase Springs Eternal
on the same idea as the previous entry about 93FEETOFSMOKE - this is a track (and an artist as a whole) that very much draws from the emo and metal days of yore.
(fun fact - this song was originally #6 on the list, but my bit of extra research and writeup changed my heart for the better.)
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, founding member of the aforementioned GothBoiClique, and previous founding member and vocalist of the late 2000s emo band Tiger's Jaw draws very heavily on the emo and gothic superstars of the early 2000s - often referring to groups like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance as major musical influences.
this has led Wicca, throughout his emo rap career, to be a cornerstone of the gothic, and more subtle edges of the alternative. whereas for some, the word "emo" is an aesthetic, with Wicca, it's a lifestyle - the style of which, i feel like, is perfectly captured within this song and it's video.
this song speaks on themes that i feel like we can all relate to (or at least i very much can) - capturing the feeling of a loss of an important relationship, and the feeling of insecurity and concern as you walk about the city in which you both live, carrying about your life, though always looking over your shoulder for unfriendly faces and bad memories.
whether this song will shine as one of the most important emo rap tracks after the genre dies, i'm unsure. however, i think this song very well captures the spirit of emo - both emotionally and musically, and well deserves to be mentioned when we discuss the progression of emo in the future.
- "Leanin'" x Lil Peep
as we come to close a year of emo rap - it's hard not to mention Lil Peep.
after Gustav's death in late 2017, his fans were nearly foaming at the mouth for unreleased material, and in November, they got their wish with the release of his first posthumous album, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2
this album features a lot of fantastic tracks from peep - such as "Falling Down" ft. XXXTentacion, the more-optimistic-than-usual "Life Is Beautiful", and my personal favorite from the album, "Broken Smile".
however - in light of his passing, none of these songs seem to be quite as harrowing as "Leanin'"
the lyrics feature Peep nodding (the feeling of euphoria and disorientation you may experience on opiates) in his seat, reflecting on someone he misses, and the current state of his life.
peppered with bi-polar lyrics about sex and wanting to scream when you hear someone's name -
and the absolutely chilling verse
Woke up surprised
Am I really alive?
I was tryin' to die last night, survived suicide last night
makes this song a hallmark of the year for me - highlighting the struggle that Peeper felt, how risky he new his lifestyle was, and how much he was ready to give up if it meant him finally being free of the pain he felt.
Rest easy, Gus.
- "Peach Scone" x Hobo Johnson
NPR Tiny Desk Contest Submission - (Music Video)
Lyrics (the intro changes with every performance. i think it's a cute concept.)
breakout emo rap star Hobo Johnson has had a really big year, with the release of this single, and the growth of attention to his other more-popular tracks "Romeo and Juliet", and "Father" (i'm the new Will Smith!)
our man Frank has seen himself come up on a rise in the underground, as his creative lyricism, inventive instrumentals, and fresh/interesting vocal delivery have gotten the attention of a lot of people inside and outside of the emo rap community. (this aided by the fact that his otherwise bright, bubbly personality has led him to become a bit of a prettyboy in the scene, causing his concerts to be full of sad dudes and girls fawning trying to get a good pic for Instagram. can't say i blame them. he's a cute fella.)
but on the important musical side of things, i love the fact that his lyrics seem to be striking and raw, without being hyper-simplistic. his delivery comes across as raw and pained - without being aggressive or dark. and most importantly, he touches on topics and feelings of anxiety that i feel like we all experience every now and then - but as we grow older, have come to ignore or simply accept as a "part of life" or a "part of the way the world works". with peach scone, we see Frank finding himself smitten with a girl already in a happy, committed relationship - and his struggles of smiling and offering her support, whilst also trying to hide the face that any time he sees this girl,
and then the courage builds up inside of him and he cant help but turn to her and admit the fact
- "Train food" x XXXTentacion
and here at number one - we have my personal favorite track off of Jahseh's first posthumous album, "Skins".
this was a very interesting song. and, in the same vein of the song from Peep, very harrowing as it looks forward heavily discussing the topic of death, and it's inevitable nature.
this is not a recanting of a moment in Jahseh's life, or a metaphor expressing some deeper ideas of life/death/pain.
rather, this is a bit of a concept song, meant to tell a story of a boy walking home, as he comes nearby a train track, and meets a man who turns out to be Death.
the delivery, style, and message of the song are very reminiscent of his earlier song "I spoke to the devil in miami, he said everything would be fine" (Song/Lyrics)
this song shows X walking home with his head down as he comes across a man - presumed to be Satan, who stops him for a quick chat.
wanting to avoid confrontation and not wanting to talk, X changes directions, only to be cornered by the weaponless man around every corner. there was no escape.
they begin to "talk" as X is reminded of his history of self-harm, and the life of hardship he'd lead until his recent acquisition of an audience, a change of heart, and financial success.
then we hear X attacked, and bound to the rails of a train track - calling out to God for help and hearing nothing, feeling abandoned, as he knows death inevitably waits around the corner.
almost as if he could see the murder coming just months in the future.
not only is this track absolutely chilling, but it's also a phenomenal use of music to tell a compelling story. we've seen that X has the capacity to create the mindless/empty trap bangers like "Look At Me!" or "#ImSippinTeaInYoHood" - but he instead chooses to use his platform to push the boundaries of what today's rap fans listen to, using his influence to open his fans up to the idea of concept-music and musical storytelling, and to show that he was, above all else, an artist looking for a platform, looking for self-expression, and looking to lose himself in his art.
Long Live Jahseh.
anyone out there lookin to catch a drain vibe, then this your post. lil peep is a damn king of this generation, and it's a shame we lost the boy as soon as we did. here's a small collection of...
anyone out there lookin to catch a drain vibe, then this your post.
lil peep is a damn king of this generation, and it's a shame we lost the boy as soon as we did.
here's a small collection of some of his stuff that i'm daydrunkvibin on at the moment.
"U Said" - Come Over When You're Sober pt. 1
"Lil Jeep" x Crybaby
"Wake Me Up" x not currently scheduled for studio release
"Move On, Be Strong" x Hellboy
"Cut Myself" ft. mysticphonk, not scheduled for studio release
"Broken Smile" x Come Over When You're Sober, pt. 2
"Walk Away as the Door Slams" ft. Lil Tracy x Hellboy
*** BONUS ***
"goth queen" x Lil Peep ft. mysticphonk
"JUST ONE THING" x Wicca Phase Springs Eternal
"Suicidal Pistol Grip Pump" x Yüth Forever
"I spoke to the devil in Miami, he said everything would be fine" x XXXTentacion
stay up, stay down, stay Xed out,4 votes
aight folks - finally got around to migrating my thicc playlist. decided i'd share it bc why not. here's my 200+ track emo rap playlist if you're looking to dive in headfirst. i had a bad habit of...
aight folks - finally got around to migrating my thicc playlist. decided i'd share it bc why not.
here's my 200+ track emo rap playlist if you're looking to dive in headfirst.
i had a bad habit of adding like everything in the beginning, so i recommend shuffling and going from there.
abuhubuhbuhb bishop La Dispute isn't rap jnfjewndlqwdul Daughters isn't dwnauibdaw
stfu th frick up budy
💜 𝕏 🖤7 votes
howdy pardner! welcome back to my emo rap deep-dive series! for those just joining us, i'd encourage you to go back and check out chapter one: sprite. and chapter two: dirt. first. so why am i...
welcome back to my emo rap deep-dive series! for those just joining us, i'd encourage you to go back and check out chapter one: sprite. and chapter two: dirt. first.
so why am i even writing this to begin with? if i'm being honest, it's not all entirely educationally-motivated. i've been really wanting a way to share my favorite genre of music with people (maybe it's a subconscious testing of the waters before i begin to record my own music?) and collect their thoughts. but every time i went to share a link in ~music, i'd deliberate over and over, "what should i share?" it's been so hard for me to pick one single song that's all-encompassing and anthemic (is that even a word? i keep using that word) of the genre as a whole.
so instead of spamming ~music, or having to cherry pick a small number of tracks, i thought i'd use this as an opportunity to provide a little historical background and, hopefully, maybe, inspire a new appreciation in a subgenre that very often gets overlooked, or thought of as basic / whiney / overproduced.
that said - hopefully you've all been following along, and i'll stop stalling! let's dive right into chapter three of our emo-rap deep dive - dirty sprite. or, how did we go from OutKast to Lil Pump?
let me open with a question. what do the following have in common?
polish composer and piano virtuoso frederic chopin
controversial american rapper lil pump
american actor and i guess also musician? corey feldman
you guessed it!
all of the present characters used opiates in their lifes, typically throughout the better parts of their creative years. chopin was using medicinal opiates in order to aide with his tuberculosis. feldman fell into and has since (i believe) fought his way out of a heroin addiction. lil pump sips promethazine by the bottle just to party (hyperbole. don't drink prometh by the bottle) which is a prescription medication often used as a sedative or used to prevent coughs or nausea. often sold as a mixture of promethazine and codeine, itself being an opiate. if you've seen a rap music video in the past two to three years, you may have seen this bottle somewhere throughout.
where do all of these drugs come from?
the answer to that question actually holds a lot of relevance to the history of emo rap itself, but to answer it, we first have to go all the way back to the 90s.
off we go!
believe it or not, drugs as a matter of discussion weren't always ever-present in the rap game. from the late 70s to the early 80s, only about 10% of all rap songs mentioned drug use, whereas in the early 90s, we see that number jump waaaay the fuck up to 45%, to eventually hit 69% by 1997 [source]. this is all taking place around the same time that we saw the decline of major urban neighborhoods due to the effects of white flight, decreasing the amount of tax dollars flowing throughout these areas, and leading to a decrease in public services that would include decreased effectiveness of, say, fire brigades or police squads.
with poorer households now making up a majority of these neighborhoods, the illegal drug trade quickly grew in popularity as a way to make money on the business end, and a way to escape the day-to-day on the client end. a plethora of burned, broken into, or otherwise abandoned houses became a seemingly limitless amount of places to go about the production of drugs - most notably, crack cocaine. these houses came to be known colloquially as trap houses, and the music inspired by this phenomenon, trap music.
this sound grew it's roots in the early 90s thanks to the early projects out of the south like UGK (title: Cocaine in the Back of the Ride), Three 6 Mafia (title: We Got Da Dope), and The Showboys (title: Drag Rap). coincidentally, the showboys are actually a group out of new york, though gained the height of their popularity touring around southern states.
as we head into the mid-nineties/early-naughts, we see the emergence of a few acts that really take this sound and run with it. setting the roots for the coming commercial explosion of the trap sound, we see examples like OutKast's "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik", Lil Jon's "Who You Wit". we're gonna see lil jon's name pop up a few times as we go through this.
taking the reigns from these majorly influential projects, we next see T.I. come to the stage for his second album "Trap Muzik" in 2003. much to the surprise of the industry (his debut album did not go over all too well), Trap Muzik debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, sold over 100k copies in it's first week, and was later in 2012 called one of the classic albums of the last decade by Complex. the album features many early hits from T.I. like "Be Easy", "24's", and even some tracks with producer credits from Kanye West like "Doin' My Job". still sticking to their guns, pioneering the trap sound, we continue to see records from Lil Jon and Three 6 Mafia taking to the radio such as, respectively, "Get Low" and "Stay Fly"
paving the way towards the 2010s, we begin to see the rise of artists like Gucci Mane and his debut album "Trap House" (aptly titled eh?) hitting the Billboard 200 with tracks like "Icy", Young Jeezy with internationally-charting tracks like "Soul Survivor", and most notably in modern trap, producer-powerhouse Zaytoven with work on tracks like "Papers" x Usher.
so we skip forward 5-7 years and things look...different.
instead of having chart-toppers like "Smack That" x Akon, "Hey There Delilah" x Plain White T's, or "Umbrella" x Rihanna
we see a lot of love for things like "First of the Year (Equinox) x Skrillex, "Sail" x AWOLNATION, and most importantly by far, "Versace" x Migos which was quickly popularized by Drake's remix. the rest of 2013 serves as the absolute corner stone of modern trap music seeing the success of songs like "Swimming Pools (Drank)" x Kendrick Lamar, "Started From The Bottom" x Drake, and of course, the absolute trap anthem, "Love Sosa" x Chief Keef.
in that avalanche of tracks, we get the recipe that will come to make up the bulk of today's trap music:
- edm-inspired instrumentals
- triplet meter rhyme
- heavy 808s and crystal clear hi-hats.
over the next few years, we steadily start to see these three ingredients come together to produce some absolute bangers leading up to the trap zeitgeist.
"Fight Night" x Migos
"Black Widow" x Iggy Azalea
the ever-memed "Lifestyle" x Young Thug
the year of Fetty Wap with tracks like "Trap Queen", "679" on the Billboard 100
"No Type" x Rae Sremmurd
"Flex" x Rich Homie Quan
"Panda" x Desiigner
"Broccoli" x DRAM
Drake jumping back in with "Jumpman"
"Down in the DM" x Yo Gotti
and then, finally, we arrive at 2017 - the year that caused the internet's busiest music nerd anthony "melon" fantano to pose the question "have we reached peak trap?". up until recently, the term "trap music" was actually not all too commonly associated with rap music - instead referring most commonly to a subset of edm with (still) heavy 808s, thicc bass drops, and dirty breakdowns. however, with the musical zeitgeist quickly moving to seat rap at the throne over rock music, and with the internet popularizing songs like "Ultimate" x Denzel Curry, "Flicka Da Wrist" x Chedda Da Connect, and "U Guessed it" x OG Maco, the term has now been absolutely overtaken as many rap fans find themselves infatuated with the sound. this causes the scene to absolutely explode throughout 2017 with songs like:
"Humble" x Kendrick Lamar
"Bad and Boujee" x Migos
"Bodak Yellow" x Cardi B
"Look At Me!" x XXXTentacion
and of course
"Gucci Gang" x Lil Pump
this year sees the debuts of several artists that are still dropping bangers today, like the previously listed Cardi B, Lil Pump, XXXTentacion (rest in peace), A Boogie wit Da Hoodie, and (again) of course, 6ix9ine.
analogous to the rise of screamed lyrics, heavy instrumentals, and prettyboy-frontmen of mid-late 2000s rock bands, we see the rise of trap music today.
now, the final question to be answered.
how do we get from rap songs with hedonistic lyrics, heavy 808s, and loud-personality frontmen, to a subsect of the genre that nearly predominantly speaks of subjects like death, addiction, loss, and suicide?
i'll see ya soon for the fourth and final installment of the emo-rap deep dive - chapter four: xanax sprinkles.12 votes
welcome back, class! i'm actually kinda having fun with this project lmao. dive into the comments and let me know what you lot are thinking! this is the second installation in, what i believe will...
welcome back, class!
i'm actually kinda having fun with this project lmao. dive into the comments and let me know what you lot are thinking! this is the second installation in, what i believe will be, a four part series. enjoy!
in the last chapter, we learned a little about how rap in the 90's began to get a bit more introspective, self-reflective, and focus on some generally harsher, more grating topics. while all eras definitely have their hype music (see: "Nuthin' But a G Thang" x Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg or "Slob on my Knob" x Three 6 Mafia, we slowly began to see songs like "Slippin'" x DMX or "Rock Bottom" x Eminem which slowly began the trend of rappers using their music to really peel back the curtains of their lives, using their music as an escape into catharsis from their daily struggles.
however, emo rap does seem to have something else happening inside of it. it's not just simply sad or emotionally-charged rap music, that's been around for quite a long time! what's that extra layer that gives us the gritty, rough, and often-whiney nature to modern emo rap? for that, we turn to the name of the genre itself.
not only did the 90's prove as a time of great growth and evolution in rap, but it saw the expolsion of a new genre of rock music as well. with roots set in the 80's, emo rock first gained major commercial popularity with bands like Green Day and The Offspring quickly moving albums to the tops of the charts with songs like, respectively, "She" and "Self Esteem". as the genre fell face-first into the zeitgeist, we quickly saw a rise of early emo rock groups like Lifetime, Jimmy Eat World, and one of the most influential early emo groups - Texas is the Reason. throughout the decade, the prophecy foretold by the Rolling Stones in their track "Paint it Black" quickly began to unfold. teenagers were wearing black, goth kids slowly started to emerge from the depths of the underworld, and hot topic was finally starting to make money. the foundations and roots of emo have been set, ready and waiting to lead us into the 21st century.
the year is 2000, and pretty much everything is fucking awesome. we see the launch of the indestructible classic Nokia 3310. we get video games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and of course, Pokemon Gold and Silver. the billboard charts are full names that make us go "oh yeah!" like Destiny's Child, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, Montell Jordan, 3 Doors Down, Backstreet Boys, Creed, Madonna, and the list goes on and on and on.
the 2000s saw an absolute unit of a revival of the newly restructured emo genre, quickly launching off massively influential tracks like "All the Small Things" x Blink 182, and we even see the creation of the first emo-centric record labels across the late-nineties and early naughts. this means that a lot of the emo bands of the time had not only better representation and access to the innerworkings of the industry, but better access to resources which would help them promote and distribute themselves as well - this is what allowed a lot of bands to leap and bound right into the hot topic t-shirt wall.
one of the bigger labels we came to see was Vagrant records, moving to quickly sign groups like The Get Up Kids, Hot Rod Circuit, Dashboard Confessional, and Saves the Day. with the internet in their toolbox, some major corporate sponsorships funding the whole gig, and a huge amount of confidence in the future of emo, Vagrant set out on what's considered to be one of the most influential projects in the (still) early days of emo when they launched a nationwide tour with every band in their label in tow.
shortly thereafter, Jimmy Eat World launches the biggest single of their career "The Middle", Dashboard Confessional break heavy into the mainstream, and Madison Square Garden goes absolutely wild for Saves The Day, Blink-182, Green Day, and Weezer.
emo is starting to get big, and people are starting to realize that there's money to be made here.
this brings us now to the mid-ish 2000s. everyone's on myspace, everyone's got a motorola razr, everyone's getting into skating or bmx, and every chick with jetblack black hair or fishnets is going absolutely fucking crazy over Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco. this is the part where the big money steps in and major record labels start signing a lot of emo bands left and right. this massive cash injection into the industry saw the rise of a lot of bands which would go on to not only define the industry, but to define the middle school and high school lives of a great number of their listeners. as the emo singularity entered the phase of it's big bang, we saw the rise of a number of stars like Taking Back Sunday, Simple Plan, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and many many many deep breath many others.
fueled by industry investments, teen angst, and a desire to be different, this led to an explosive rise in popularity for the genre, with many songs quickly moving to RIAA gold/platinum status and Billboard chart success like "Misery Business" x Paramore, "Miss Murder" x AFI, or "Check Yes Juliet" x We The Kings. this massive influx of success inspired some of the best parties, most genuine moments, and most cringiest photographs of our many young lives. very frequently this music was used as an escape for those who felt that their problems were going otherwise unrecognized or misunderstood, who felt that they were sad or alone, who hated the seeming lack of control that they had in their own lives - constantly living under the legislature of parents, school systems, or cops that always seemed to hate us edgy confrontational teenagers.
however, like Sam Smith would come to say, "too much of a good thing won't be good for long." what happens when a star shines too bright? what happens after a supernova?
things go dark.
it's now that we begin to enter the part of this whole movement that we've all repressed - and it starts with bracelets.
vuvuzelas are hilarious, "TiK ToK" x Ke$ha is topping charts, and highschools everywhere are full of Silly Bandz and sex bracelets. we've reached a point of absolute pop culture saturation with the emo vogue. while songs of the previous era like "Welcome to the Black Parade" (linked earlier) or "Dirty Little Secret" x The All-American Rejects still hold an anthemic position in the musical zeitgeist, by and large, emo simply was no longer enough. the all-black motif was drab and dark. the music didn't cut deep enough, the lyrics didn't hit hard enough, the vocals weren't powerful enough. we needed something stronger, something more powerful.
this desire for harder hitting music led to an underground rise of hardcore bands like La Dispute and Pianos Become the Teeth. these bands were very much hitting in the right direction, blending the angst and yearning of modern emo music with the strength of metal instrumentals and vocals hit home with a good number of people still looking to hold onto the last bastions of the emo movement.
and, as we've seen before, as this demographic loves to live fast and hard, the remodeled emo genre quickly skyrocketed into popularity with bands like Asking Alexandria, Bring Me The Horizon, and A Day to Remember rushing to the forefront of the movement. the rough, gritty nature of the instrumentals paired with the phenomenally screamed vocals seemed to add several more layers of separation between what we were listening to, and the "traditional" music we had been brought up listening to. this was new, this was edgy, but more importantly, this was ours. this was music that we knew the lyrics to, music that we could sing along with because we'd teach ourselves how to scream-sing when we had the house to ourselves, and music that, most importantly, we were pretty damn sure our parents weren't going to get into. they started using myspace, we left for facebook - abandoning the customized purple, black, and sparkly profile pages of yore.
however, there was something missing here. this was music we could connect to, sure. we were glad to have the songs we did to relate with! even still, we got greedy. connecting to it wasn't enough. we needed music we could fuck to. we needed eyecandy. we needed music that was brutal, strong, and beyond comprehension. we got gluttonous.
now we begin to enter the scene age. flashy colors and attitudes replace the black nature of the previous era. ostentatiously hardocre and brutal instrumentals (or alternatively, very pop-y, electronically inspired instrumentals) back vocals sang by artists who's image was crafted under nature and umbrella of being unconventionally attractive to this new audience. this led to projects such as "You Aint No Family" x iwrestledabearonce, "Sex Ed Rocks!" x SMOSH & ISETMYFRIENDSONFIRE, and (oh god,) "Bree Bree" x Brokencyde.
i know my language here is pretty overtly negative, not to make it seem like i hate every band from this era. i actaully like iwrestledabearonce, and a lot of these bands hold a great amount of nostalgia in my life. tracks like "Knives and Pens" x Black Veil Brides were anthemic of this late-stage emo-rock era, checking a good number of the boxes above, and drawing attention to the struggles of people of this era. for example, it can be said that the way emo-rap heavily goes about drawing attention to drug use/abuse is very analogous to the way that a lot of this late-stage emo rock draws attention to self-expression and self-harm.
this era was loud while it was here, and saw the popularity of a lot of projects like the following before it quickly died out around 2014/2015:
We Butter The Bread With Butter
"Wake Up" x Suicide Silence
Pierce The Veil
Sleeping With Sirens
and, often, scene music held no semblance of it's metal roots at all! you may remember hits of the era like "DON'T TRUST ME" x 3OH3!, "Shake It!" x Metro Station, "Good Girls Go Bad" x Cobra Starship, or "Sexting" x Blood on the Dance Floor.
palette cleanser: "Dirty Diana" x Michael Jackson (The Weeknd Cover)
so here we've arrived. the year is 2014, and the billboard is topped with pharrell, meghan trainor's debut single, "Shake It Off" x Taylor Swift, and the debut tracks from the likes of Lorde and Sam Smith.
...and some guy named Young Thug?
Wait, who's this Bobby Shmurda guy?
something's a-changing... where's the industry headed?
find out next time on the emo rap deep dive - chapter three: dirty sprite.12 votes
howdy there folks! there's been a new breed of rap/hip-hop coursing through the industry in recent years. some songs riding the wave up to the crest in the industry, and gaining some popularity,...
howdy there folks!
there's been a new breed of rap/hip-hop coursing through the industry in recent years. some songs riding the wave up to the crest in the industry, and gaining some popularity, some artists intermingled in major controversy, and most relevantly, a lot of really sad late-millenial-early-gen-z kids getting together to cry in the dark, hug each other, dance until their bodies hurt, and get absolutely fucked up.
this wave, as you can tell by the title of the post and my ceaseless, shitty, un-asked-for poetry, is that of
(edit: as i was writing this i realized that i started to write for a really long time, so i'm just going to leave this at chapter one for now. if you want me to keep going, or if you saw any big ol' lies in here, feel free to let me know in the comments downstairs!)
chapter one - sprite. the crisp history of emo rap.
the modern evolution of emo rap is a lovechild of two unexpected homes - the montagues and the capulets. (sorry.)
the first origin source is from exactly what the name of the genre suggests - emotional rap. in the 90s, the world of rap was vastly different than it is today. rock music was very much still the cultural zeitgeist, most kids daydreamed of being rockstars, and rap lyrics could be seen bouncing between the usual subjects: struggles of racism/classism, or bragging rights over the monetary, the loud, and the beautiful. the quality of life in the inner cities or housing projects, who had the best shooters, gang representation (east side / west side), or just how damn good weed is.
it goes without saying that, since the birth of the genre, rap has had the capacity to be very introspective and reflective on the lifestyle and living conditions of the artist who'd penned the track. however - it, to my knowledge, was not all that common to see artists focusing on internal struggles, the pressures they faced to succeed financially for the sake of themselves and their families, the pressures they faced to perform well under their labels.
very early examples of these more self-reflective types of songs come from the big dogs themselves.
"Trapped" x Tupac Shakur speaks very much on the idea of being "trapped" inside of his neighborhood. this very politically charged song gets right into the perspective of Pac himself, and more importantly, the raw emotion flowing through his head as he looks around his day to day.
"Suicidal Thoughts" x Notorious B.I.G Biggie himself coming out with one of his most vulnerable tracks he'd ever produced. this relatively short song proves to be very dense and curt, with the man himself talking about how he doesn't believe he's fit to get into heaven, how he believes his mom would have rather aborted him, and contemplating the effects that his death would have on those around him.
tracks like these set the stage for the next wave of introspective rappers to take the stand, and interestingly enough, our three biggest culprits all seemed to be involved in some form or fashion in the music of the others.
jumping from the nineties to the naughts, we see our next field of rappers entering stage right - kanye west, kid cudi, and drake.
one of the first major albums to set the stage for the emo rap that we very well could see carrying the rap torch into the next decade, was none other than kanye west's "808s and Heartbreak". with features from kid cudi, we see kanye exploring a lot of heartbreak, loss, and loneliness on this record. for example, we've got tracks like "Bad News" where it seems like ye recants moments of his finding infidelity in the girl of his dreams, with lyrics like
Didn't you know I was waiting on you Waiting on a dream That'll never come true ... Oh you just gonna Keep another love for you Oh you just gonna Keep it like you never knew
over the next two years after 808s' release, we see cudi come out with a series of small records under his "man on the moon" project, featuring absolute earworms like "Day N' Night" and some of his deepest work like "Soundtrack 2 My Life". over the course of the project we hear cudi very often speaking on topics like depression, the death of his dad, and lots of drugs that were used as a means of escape from his own head.
and in the next year, drake drops what (i would) consider to be his big-break record "Take Care". after his debut album saw a good deal of commercial success, and got drake a good amount of fame for himself, "Take Care" as an album serves as a bit of cathartic introspection for a young drizzy - often touching on topics like failed relationships, materialism, and loneliness. (mostly though, a lot of heartbreak. i think this is the album that gained drake a lot of negative attention in the rap community for being "soft", and "a bitch". i disagree, but hey, toxic masculinity, what ya gonna do.)
the most notable songs off of take care came to be "Marvin's Room" with lines like
Guess she don't have the time to kick it no more Flights in the morning What you doing that's so important? I've been drinking so much That I'ma call you anyway and say Fuck that nigga that you love so bad
and of course, the title song of the album "Take Care" featuring topics of trust, heartbreak, and this yearning for someone's heart, at the expense of your own emotional wellbeing.
'Cause that truth hurts, and those lies heal And you can't sleep thinking that he lies still So you cry still, tears all in the pillow case Big girls all get a little taste Pushing me away so I give her space Dealing with a heart that I didn't break
and with these tracks leading us well into 2012, it's officially been made socially acceptable for rap to reach this level of introspection. yes, you will still catch shit for being "soft" (though less-so nowadays i find), but with absolute industry influencers like ye, cudi, and drizzy, it would be hard to argue that there's no place for this kind of music or these kinds of lyrics in the modern rap scene.
the tone has been set, and we look onward to the next six years of rap music. what's to come of it? will there be more heavy r&b influence like we saw in Take Care? will electronic beats like we saw in 808s, or futuristic production styles like we had in Man in the Moon take charge? will these trendsetters who have now allowed rap to get interpersonal, raw, and introspective in a new field be paired with some new, unexpected style and add a brand new face to the game?
join us next time for chapter two: dirt.