SoundCloud Rap Albums That Defined A Generation

Unfortunately, SoundCloud doesn't have the same ring as it used to. While it's still a breeding ground for young artists looking to gain attention, it's not the in-demand discovery platform for new music that it used to be. However, at its peak, the SoundCloud movement and its many hit rap albums were among the most popular hip-hop trends. From Juice WRLD to XXXTentacion, many artists proved that rap didn't need to be polished to make it into the mainstream. The grim, jaded quality of their sound sub-versed the genre, a trend tragically cut short by the passing of the two respective artists.

Face tattoos, braided hair, and a dark demeanor became synonymous with the new age of rock stars. Mosh-pits became enraged and downright dangerous amidst tracks such as XXXTentacion's "Look at Me!" Interestingly, this late 2010s movement wasn't subject to one region. While South Florida may have been a key region, the movement's epicenter was the internet. The nature of the SoundCloud platform made for moodier, angst-filled, and emotionally complex songs. With artists being able to hide behind the monger of an alter-ego, the platform encouraged emotional vulnerability for outcasted teenagers and adolescents.

For every forward movement of SoundCloud's rap albums into the mainstream, there was a counterforce looking to demonize the sound. Many denounced the loose and wild nature of the lyrical content as "mumble rap." However, detractors of the new wave only strengthened its popularity. It inspired the likes of Denzel Curry and Ski Mask the Slump God to rap gravely about their haters. The movement's first big moment occurred in 2016 when Lil Uzi Vert stood front and center of the year's XXL magazine annual Freshman issue.

Juice WRLD - Goodbye & Good Riddance (2018)

Of course, several rap albums solidified the validity of the SoundCloud era. Juice WRLD's Goodbye & Good Riddance was the first project to go global, an 808-induced album surrounding heartbreak and continued drug use. Tracks such as "All Girls Are the Same" and "Lucid Dreams" shot to the top of the Billboard charts, bringing the unhinged lyricism of the SoundCloud generation to hip-hop radio stations nationwide. The project's self-deprecating lyricism is even more tragic in the context of Juice WRLD's untimely passing.

Lil Pump - Lil Pump (2017)

Lil Pump rides a jet ski amid an ocean of sinking sports cars on the front cover of 2017's Lil Pump. While his antics can sometimes make it difficult to take the Miami-born MC seriously, there's no doubt that his exhilarating self-titled album was a thrill ride perfectly curated for energetic teens. Tracks such as "Boss" and "D Rose" hurl the listener straight into an overheated mosh-pit, making it an ideal listen for late-night benders. Lil Pump is downright goofy from start to finish. A Chat GPT generator could outdo the lyricism. However, that ridiculousness is precisely what made the project resonate with an entire generation of wild teenagers.

Lil Uzi Vert - Lil Uzi Vert Vs The World (2016)

On the surface, Lil Uzi Vert's rap albums don't exactly fall into the construct of the SoundCloud scene. If anything, he's more-so aligned with the traditional sonic tropes of mainstream trap. He's closer to the worlds of Future and Young Thug than to XXXTentacion or Lil Peep. However, he's still an electrical product of internet culture. In addition, the success of Lil Uzi Vert vs The World aided the popularity of his contemporaries such as Lil Yachty or Playboi Carti. A mix of seething beats and braggadocios high notes, "Money Longer" and "Ps & Qs" remain among his best songs.

Playboi Carti - Playboi Carti (2017)

Is there a bigger Soundcloud mogul than Playboi Carti? There's an ongoing joke amongst Carti fans that if your favorite song by him isn't an obscure leftover that hovers in the depths of SoundCloud, you aren't a real fan. However, Carti's unreleased discography is arguably the most iconic in hip-hop. However, the self-titled Playboi Carti brought that psychedelic world of cloud rap to the main stage, riding off of the anthem that is "Magnolia." Its sound would prove highly influential over the years, pioneering a focused subgenre of Cloud rap that would be fully fledged out with Die Lit.

XXXTentacion - 17 (2017)

The lead single for 17, "Look at Me!," is likely the most influential SoundCloud-era track ever. XXXTentacion's unfiltered range resonated with teenage audiences nationwide, capturing his rollercoaster personality. However, that ugly realness didn't parallel XXXTentacion's debut album, 17. From "Jocelyn Flores" to "Everybody Dies in Their Nightmares," his saddening restrain caught fans off guard. He told fans about it before the album's release, stating, "If you listen to me to get hype or to not think, don't buy this album."

Lil Yachty - Lil Boat (2016)

Lil Yachty's initial sound was a pure creation of the internet. His debut mixtape, Lil Boat, is 40 minutes of pure happiness. It's hard to put a pin on where the appeal lies. Yachty certainly doesn't stand out as a lyricist, and the production heavily wears the influences of its era. The appeal of Lil Boat lies in its easy and unbothered nature, sounding as if Yachty is sitting on the couch next to a hefty collection of late-night snacks. The single "One Night" was the cult hit of the record. In essence, the rap album Lil Boat's simplicity mirrors many of the SoundCloud era's appealing elements.



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