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How Soundcloud Launched a Whole Generation of Rappers

How Soundcloud Launched a Whole Generation of Rappers

Juice WRLD, Doja Cat & Post Malone: The streaming platform Soundcloud has given rise to a whole generation of rappers. While many have pronounced the era of “Soundcloud Rap” as over, the phenomenon shows us that times have changed: Streaming platforms have officially replaced radio as the space where artists make (or break) their careers. 

In this article we will show you how Soundcloud became THE place for a new generation of underground talent and what you as an artist can learn from the phenomenon.

A short history of SoundCloud

Swedish streaming service SoundCloud was established in 2007. Its low entry hurdle set it apart from other streaming providers in important ways. [1]

There are no monthly costs, and unlike Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services, no middleman is required.

Hip-hop, which began as a subculture in 1970s New York, has long since made it into the mainstream, as you are surely aware. It is currently regarded as the most popular musical style. In spite of this, SoundCloud's underground beginnings are arguably what made it so appealing to young hip-hop artists.


The rise of SoundCloud rap  

When SoundCloud was launched, DJs dominated its user base and shared their shows there. All of that changed in the early 2010s when a whole generation of hip-hop artists began sharing their (sometimes unfinished) tracks on the platform. The phenomenon expanded, eventually becoming the "SoundCloud rap" or "mumble rap" subgenre. Although there is no definitive definition of SoundCloud rap, it is typically distinguished by muttered delivery, an unpolished recording style, and themes of drug use, loneliness, and suicide. [2]

"It was basically the worst recording setup, but that was the wave we were riding because you could set it up anyplace... Rapper Ski Mask the Slump God says, "The raw intensity of that—the distortion—is our speciality and we used that to our advantage.

While critics debate whether SoundCloud rap is a genre, a cultural phenomenon, or just the work of any rapper who happens to start out on the platform, one thing is for certain: What began as an underground movement associated with face tattoos, emo lyrics, and a rock-star lifestyle, quickly became THE thing everyone was talking about...

Is SoundCloud Rap dead? 

It only took a few years for the phenomena to become widely known after the chatter began to intensify. The SoundCloud rap movement was referred to as "the most vibrant and disruptive new movement in hip-hop" by New York Times music writer Jon Caramanica in 2017. But, things quickly began to fall apart after Lil Peep, XXXTentaction, and Juice Wrld passed away. Many, including Rolling Stone Magazine, declared the movement to be dead.

Famous SoundCloud Rappers 

The movement played a crucial role in the democratization of music that resulted from the development of the internet. It therefore attracted to a group of hip-hop performers that didn't want to follow the established rules in a rock'n'roll fashion. Bbymutha, Lil Yachty, Rico Nasty, Doja Cat, Lil Uzi Vert, Speak!, Lil Peep, 21 Savage, Ashnikko, Ghostemane, Lil Dicky, Playboi Carti, Quay Dash, Dai Burger, Lil Pump, Chief Keef, XXXTentacion, and Yung Baby Tate are just a few of the artists connected to the craze.

Post Malone, whose song "White Iversion" went viral in 2015, is undoubtedly SoundCloud's biggest success story. He has since released two number-one albums and most recently joined the club of YouTube users with 1 billion views.

Another rapper who launched his career on SoundCloud and has achieved major mainstream success is Chance The Rapper, who has since received three Grammy Awards and continues to be one of the most exciting names in hip-hop.  

The rapper who came to define the SoundCloud era, however, was Juice WRLD, who rose to fame very fast and died of an accidental overdose at age 21. 

SoundCloud as a platform for rappers 

Although many have equated Juice WRLD's passing with the demise of "SoundCloud rap," SoundCloud continues to be a crucial outlet for upcoming hip-hop artists. After all, the most popular genre on the platform by far is hip-hop music.

In addition, the layout of SoundCloud makes it simpler for hip-hop fans to discover new artists they might enjoy. This is due to a number of factors: Similar to a Twitter timeline, the SoundCLoud homepage displays tracks by the artists you follow. Also, SoundCloud users have the option to comment on tracks they like (or detest) and instantly share them on their personal feeds. This social component continues to link musicians (and their fans) with one another and is likely what gave rise to the SoundCloud rap era. Additionally, SoundCloud creates Playlists on its own based on your streaming history and lets fans view and share content that their favorite artists appreciate.


To put it in other words: 

On SoundCloud, every artist also becomes a tastemaker, and the algorithm of the platform makes it easier for fans to come across niche material they may like. In difference to platforms like Spotify or YouTube, SoundCloud therefore remains the go-to place for the discovery of new and raw talent.  

Get organic promotion on SoundCloud

Hip-hop artists in their early stages who want to grow their fan bases should unquestionably upload their music to SoundCloud. The issue of being heard, however, persists: Despite having 76 million registered users, only 30 million people actually create content on SoundCloud. This indicates that a significant portion of SoundCloud creators receive little or no listenership.

If you need help getting your music out there, we can help you: by purchasing a one-day promotion package for only $5 you can organically grow your listener base. The way it works is simple: We will place your song on a number of popular SoundCloud accounts. This will create organic listens, comments, reposts and likes. Depending on your music and several other factors, the organic promotion package will get you 300-500 real plays, 10-60 reposts, 10-80 likes, 1-10 relevant comments and a few new followers.

Are you ready to take your hip-hop-career to the next level?

Click here for further info.