Soundcloud is Reinventing the Rap Game, Whether You Like it or Not

Every other week some radio personality makes a music headline by hating on new artists. Be it old man Ebro on Hot 97 or Charlamagne on Power 105, a recurring theme is their disapproval of how hip hop has changed. Much of this discontent is directed at ‘mumble rappers’ or ‘soundcloud rappers’, a broad generalization categorizing many new artists, however, I believe SoundCloud as a platform and these so-called ‘soundcloud rappers’ are the best thing to happen to hip hop in over the past decade. The platform has given birth to a renaissance of new hip hop that parallels the old in more ways than meets the eye.

Funk Flex goes absolutely bonkers over mumble rappers after the freestyle.

Generally, the most widespread criticism of soundcloud rappers is how different they sound from the older artists some have grown up with. Some choose to highlight differences between artists such as Rich the Kid and Biggie Smalls and claim how could one like the new when the old is so much better. What many people miss is how soundcloud rappers represent what those old rappers used to be. This shown through how gritty and unpolished the music sounds. If you listen to old Wu-Tang, RZA tells about recording in living rooms with out of date equipment. This is what made Hip Hop different than other genres: it was a product of the culture it was made for, as opposed to a product made by a record label for mass consumption. Wu-tang didn’t sit around and wait for someone or label to help them, they made the music they wanted to and let the people decide if they wanted to listen to or not. Soundcloud rappers are doing the same thing today with newer technology. They are producing/mixing/mastering everything themselves, creating music that sounds good to them with the tools they have at their disposal. So, when people complain that XXXtentacion’s break out song “Look at me” is “bad” because the levels of the mix are off or the sound quality is poor, they are doing so without a historical perspective that is helps one to appreciate it. These attributes express the character and personality of XXX without requiring one to listen to an interview. This doesn’t mean that one is forced to enjoy the lyrics or style but there should be an understanding as to how the final product echoes the roots of Hip Hop.

The main reason early hip hop sounded so gritty that it was recorded in home studios instead of professional ones, partly due to major labels believing that hip hop wasn’t profitable at the time. This quickly changed and as hip hop exploded into mainstream America everyone wanted get their hand in the cookie jar. Artists signed to labels for large sums of money which ultimately gave away a lot of the creative control to the labels. In a matter of a few years labels that wouldn’t sign rappers now had control over them. This was when Nas famously proclaimed that Hip Hop is Dead. Hip hop became a formula for labels who forced artists to adhere to a certain standard that would guarantee the label the maximum profit. These labels wielded enormous power over artists and began to attempt to monopolize the music. Without a label pushing an artist it was nearly impossible for an artist to blow up. While labels still clearly have a ton of power over artists today, the birth of platforms like SoundCloud allow artists to build hype before a label is able to strangle them with pressure. If an artist has hundreds of thousands of instagram followers or a millions of views on a streaming platform they have huge bargaining tools that allow them more freedom. They are presented with more avenues to build a brand where there would be typically only one way through a label.

This exemplifies a genre that’s evolving and experimenting. SoundCloud has allowed rappers to push the boundaries of what is even considered rap, granting the ability to an artist to create music they believe in, rather than what the label believes in. It was this same experimenting that made Kanye be able to rap about Jesus or Drake to be able to sing and rap. Without experimentation we are left with artists like Tyga and thousands of terrible mixtapes. For every hit there may be even more misses but music is not an exact science, it’s an art. These imperfections are what makes the genre even more perfect. Soundcloud allows the fans to have a voice and an artist to receive immediate feedback. The freeness of releases allow artists to test the waters without major repercussions. Music shouldn’t be played safe, artists should be challenging themselves to create the best and most innovative music possible.

You can’t force somebody to like something new, but SoundCloud rappers deserve at the very least validation in the eyes of the old heads. Sonically, new music may sound entirely different but the mentality and originality in it is very similar. These platforms give the fans a voice and a direct line to an artist’s success and support. Artists are able to be artists instead of slaves to a label. It challenges artists to be innovative and original which continues to evolve the hip hop fan base into the largest it has ever been. There’s a simple solution if you don’t like what you hear, don’t listen to it. SoundCloud should be embraced and not rejected.

The Rise of Pimpin’

A common critique of today’s hip hop culture is that everything sounds the same. That rappers are riding the wave of other rappers flows. When Migos first burst on the scene every other artist tried their hand at a triplet flow. This shouldn’t be surprising, with any other entertainment industry there are fads the become popular. Clothing designers create similar looking clothes, tv shows start being the same, and every other movie is based of another created movie. One of the most interesting trends of hip hop is the trend of a similar crime everyone seems to be rapping about. Looking back on the early to mid 2000s rap rode the trend of pimping into mainstream America somehow making it somewhat acceptable.

Pimping has been related to rap from a very early time. Rappers drew influence from pimps in very evident ways. From the way the dressed to the names they would call themselves. Early rappers such as Ice-T and Ice Cube both derived their names from the notorious pimp called Iceberg Slim. However, Pimping wasn’t the forefront of rap until much later in history. UGK signed their first deal in 1992 with artists named Bun B and PIMP C but it wasn’t until 2007 which they earned the achievement of an #1 album on the Billboard top 200. Clearly this attributed to many factors but the overall acceptance of an artist with pimp in their name clearly showed through record sales as their group sold millions of records. Underground Kingz also having one of many people’s favorite song.


One artist who carried the pimp legacy into stardom was Snoop Dogg. In 2003 on MTV’s VMA red carpet Snoop made an appearance like this.

Snoop 2003 MTV

Just a casual as fuck Snoop Dogg giving the double handguns while toting two chicks on leashes on national television. While maybe someone would assume this might cause backlash or a decline in the embrace of pimping in 2006 Snoop made the cover of Rolling Stones Magazine with the caption “At Home With America’s Most Lovable Pimp”

Snoop 2006 Rolling Stones

Saint Snoop smoking candy cane blunts


It wasn’t all just appearances and personality that America was intrigued with but the numbers speak for themselves with songs the that topped the Billboard Charts for weeks such as; Big Pimpin’ by Jay- Z obviously featuring UGK and P.I.M.P. by 50 Cent. 50 Cent had 10 year old white kids singing the chorus of being a pimp without even knowing the true meaning.

Fun Fact: the beat to P.I.M.P. was first given to D12 but passed up because they considered the beat “too weird”. Steel drums haven’t hit as hard since that record.

The highlight of the dominance of pimping in hip hop came at the 78th Academy Awards where 3 Six Mafia won the Oscar for Best Original Song with the record “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” beating out Dolly Parton and another white lady. Totally deserving of the award but this was a clear shock to everyone including Three 6. Just watch their acceptance speech and the crowd’s reaction. One of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry and it was a win for Three 6 Mafia, pimping, and hip hop in general.  

Juicy J wearing his best skull t-shirt for the event.


Pimping isn’t extinct in hip hop but it obviously came and went as any other trend. With other crimes like trapping and drug dealing now dominating the airwaves. Besides the nostalgia of remembering some of the best songs and moments to reach the masses this really shows how hip hop truly dominates and influences much of what is cool and entertaining. Hip hop brought pimping to the mainstream and it leaked into movies, clothes, and nearly everything else.