Remember how everyone went through 2009 and collectively started wearing highlighter jeans and started shopping at Hot Topic because they were going through an emo phase? Well I'll be honest, it's not a phase, mom, and I'm still stuck listening to sad music on a regular basis. I was talking to a group of friends recently about what types of music we like listening to in the morning to wake up and some said hardcore while others said hip hop and rap - I personally said emo. This then led us to the subject of rap and these new Soundcloud rappers who seem to be appearing out of nowhere. Someone mentioned New York rapper 6ix9ine
, and how he's got this new mix of punk/emo rap going on. *Cue the record scratch* Excuse me?
This friend is not alone in this statement. Recently according to TrackRecord, Jack White
came out with a statement in an interview with Clash
about these new rappers, saying, "In a lot of ways, it is the new punk rock, They're doing the dangerous things—whether it's Trippie Redd or Tekashi69; these are a very punk, dangerous side of music."
Let's start with the first half of White's statement. Are these new Soundcloud rappers becoming the new faces of punk? Punk is such a broad term, but really it was a response to the popular culture when it was first on the scene, in the 1980's. It is so hard to truly define, because it's so broad. However to many, punk is a counterculture that deals with individuality and nonconformity. With roots in many places, some even say reggae, it's an expression of raw emotion and the idea that anyone can be a musician without formal training or experience.
So with that personal definition, I guess I do have to open up to the idea that hip hop and rap can also be punk. While the two genres don't sound similar necessarily, I see where Jack White is coming from. These Soundcloud rappers are pretty DIY, and they are rapping about their life experiences, which many find relatable.
But with all that being said, this new counterculture that is being created with this punk rap fusion is highly problematic. White brings up Tekashi69, who is the creator of the popular song, "Gummo," which has some issues. Tekashi69's lyrics are misogynistic - talking about stealing other people's girls... And to add insult to injury, the music isn't even very compelling or new. Sure, misogyny in rap isn't anything new, but apparently getting famous for lacking originality or talent is.
Also, Tekashi69 pleaded guilty to "the use of a child in a sexual performance."
This has been written about everywhere, yet people still endorse and love him. Unfortunately, sexual misconduct happens in every scene; and while people will always side with the abuser, a lot of people will lose their careers over it. Meanwhile, this guy was on Billboard's top 200 chart last month at No. 4, according to TrackRecord
He's not the only problematic Soundcloud rapper either - say hello to XXXTentaction
. The 19 year old from Florida has over 2 million followers on Soundcloud. He has so much success, yet according to Complex
in 2016 XXXTentaction brutally beat and strangled his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Yet, people don't seem to care. He's even punched a fan, but others still don't ... care?
A lot of people go through some rough situations and turn to music, which is why these artists are growing in popularity. However, many of these artists cope with their anxieties and depression by drug addiction. A popular example is Lil Peep
, who accidentally overdosed on a cocktail of Xanax and the opiate fentanyl. He was a budding rapper who died at the age of 21. He had multiple Instagram videos about taking Xanax, so it was no secret he had an addiction. This brings up the question: is this a mental healthcare problem or a music counterculture problem?
I don't think there should be an or in between those two statements, I think both play their parts. All genres have seen their fair share of overdoses. There is a Wikipedia list
that is far too long with names of musicians that have died of an overdose. It's just that right now, it seems like it is the one thing each of these emo SoundCloud rappers has in common right now. Music makes you feel less alone and gives you a means of expression. Though when that music is constantly talking to you about drugs, you become desensitized to it.
However, there is also rapper Lil Xan, who is named after the drug, but is launching a anti-xanax movement called xanarchy. Addiction is a serious mental illness and like all mental illnesses, it needs to be treated with legitimacy and the correct professional help.
Really as listeners we need to kick our idols off their pedestals. Problematic artists exist in every scene, whether it is indie, country, pop, rock, punk, or hip hop. However, that doesn't mean that what they're doing is healthy, or should be encouraged. Watching artists succeed off the promotion of their life-threatening habits might be entertaining and even relatable, but it's not something that should be encouraged. Stop romanticizing drug addiction and mental illness and start taking it for the very serious matter that it is.