There are specific genres – drum ‘n’ bass or dubstep, for instance – which stand alone, virtually purposely in defiance of every part round them. Different genres are happier to combine and work together, acknowledging that dividing traces are sometimes blurred. Cloud rap suits squarely into the latter class, drawing on and coexisting fortunately alongside a variety of genres like lure, lo-fi and chillwave.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the identify cloud rap had one thing to do with cloud storage or SoundCloud. There is a component of that (extra on which later), however the reply is someway rather more in step with the customarily bizarre sound of cloud rap.

The story goes that in a 2010 interview with Oakland rap duo Fundamental Attrakionz, blogger Walker Chambliss referred to rapper Squadda B as “the king of cloud rap”. Chambliss reportedly had misremembered one other weblog put up wherein it was reported that Squadda’s fellow Bay Space rapper Lil B had proven Cocaine Blunts blogger Noz a CGI picture of a citadel floating in clouds, proclaiming: “That’s the form of music I wish to make.” Nonetheless, Chambliss inadvertently coined the phrase.

Cloud rap may very well be seen because the weirdo cousin of the extra hardcore lure sound from Atlanta

Finest identified for 2006’s minor crossover hit Vans as a part of skate rap group The Pack (“Received my Vans on, however they seem like sneakers…”), Lil B was a strolling meme virtually from the phrase go. His closely tattooed look, surreal lyrics, quirky trend sense and slang (‘swag’, ‘primarily based’) helped outline the marginally tongue-in-cheek model of cloud rap.

Drawing on the basic 808 drum patterns of southern rap, the blissed out synths of chillwave, lo-fi manufacturing values and a inventive method to sampling, cloud rap may very well be seen because the weirdo cousin of the extra hardcore lure sound from Atlanta and drill sound that was rising from Chicago.

The primary manufacturing celebrity of the scene was New Jersey’s Clams On line casino, who linked up with Lil B over Myspace in 2009. He went on to supply for cloud and cloud-adjacent artists together with A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller (Youforia, 2013), Schoolboy Q (Gravy, 2014) and Lil Peep (4 Gold Chains, 2017).

Lyrically, the themes of cloud rap are inclined to skew considerably much less gangsta than lure and drill, with any drug references extra prone to be about getting excessive than promoting. Within the case of Swedish teen prodigy Yung Lean, an openness about teenage angst opened up a uniquely emotional new tackle rap.

Cloud rap was one of many first true internet-era genres

The various geographical backgrounds of its key protagonists trace at the truth that cloud rap was one of many first true internet-era genres, far much less involved with native scenes than hip-hop which got here earlier than.

The emergence of cloud rap coincided with the expansion of file switch platforms like Dropbox (launched in 2008) and WeTransfer (2009) in addition to music-based social platform SoundCloud (2007). It says so much that Lil B and Clams On line casino started a prolific string of collaborations in 2009 however didn’t really make music collectively in particular person till Primarily based God featured on 2016’s 32 Ranges album.

Though cloud rap was a type of basic genres the place a few of its most profitable protagonists – reminiscent of A$AP Rocky – felt uncomfortable being pigeonholed within the style, it had an enormous affect on different types of rap. The associated mumble rap scene was later typically generally known as SoundCloud rap for its use of the platform.

Equally, mumble rap went on to evolve into the much more private, overtly emotional emo rap scene, which integrated parts of instrumentation from punk and rock, and a good clearer lyrical give attention to psychological well being points. Cloud rap has solely been recognised as a style for round 12 years at this level, however already seems like a fixture of hip-hop and the broader music scene on the whole.

Three cloud rap classics

1. Lil B – I am God (2009)

All the time one of many weirder cloud rappers (in a great way), Lil B’s first collab with Clams On line casino noticed him assert his standing within the recreation, by way of his personal inimitable model: “My new identify is Primarily based God, ice cream paint job.” It’s all underpinned by a sultry, downtempo Clams beat constructed round a pattern of Imogen Heap’s Simply For Now.

English singer-songwriter Heap was an unlikely muse for cloud rap producers, not least Squadda B of Fundamental Attrakionz, who sampled her on tracks together with Legion Of Doom, Fuck The World and Blood Cash.

2. A$AP Rocky – Demons (2011)

Talking of which, Clams discovered additional inspiration from the identical pattern supply for Numb, a observe from his 2011 Instrumentals showcase. Rising celebrity A$AP Rocky jumped on the beat for Demons, launched as a part of his debut mixtape, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP. Rocky’s model advanced sooner or later, however the cloud rap calling playing cards are there on his debut, together with the basic Peso.

3. Yung Lean – Ginseng Strip 2002 (2013)

Written when he was simply 15, Ginseng Strip 2002 went viral on YouTube and established Stockholm’s Yung Lean as a brand new celebrity within the cloud rap scene, spearheading the Unhappy Boy motion outlined by its lyrical give attention to melancholy, nervousness and medicines.

The circulation on Ginseng Strip is rudimentary and infantile at instances (“Slitting wrists whereas darkish evil spirits like Slytherin slither in with tips, I’m sick”), however Lean’s monotone supply and nihilistic teenage bars over trap-inspired beats helped outline the scene and encourage emo rap.