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.