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Meet the ‘New Wave’: The resurgence of SoundCloud culture

Seven years ago, we saw the first iteration of “SoundCloud” rappers — a term for rappers who were gaining popularity through unofficial singles and cult-like Internet fanbases. Contrary to initial predictions, many artists from this movement have achieved mainstream success, making way for the next generation of up-and-comers to revolutionize the platform.

To understand how a simple streaming platform changed music so drastically, you have to realize the benefits that SoundCloud offered young artists in the early 2010s. In comparison to paid subscription services such as Spotify and Apple Music, SoundCloud provided accessibility by leveling the playing field in every aspect.

With a free account and minimal recording equipment, aspiring artists were able to make music without worrying about sample clearances and distribution deals. Rappers like Playboi Carti and XXXTentacion gained massive followings with seemingly low-quality equipment and distorted instrumentals, with hundreds of kids following in their footsteps.

Ski Mask the Slump God and XXXTentacion via @theslumpgod on IG

A number of movements began forming as rappers found themselves liberated by SoundCloud’s lack of content regulation, allowing for these homegrown sub-genres to flourish. Lil Uzi Vert, Denzel Curry, Lil Pump, Post Malone, Trippie Redd, Lil Yachty, Juice WRLD and Lil Peep each racked up millions of plays as they began to catch the attention of major labels with their unique sounds, styles and aesthetics.

Fast-forward to the present day, each of the aforementioned artists has had their fair share of mainstream success. Fans have been able to follow these self-made prodigies through million-dollar deals, major festival placements and red carpet collaborations as the initial SoundCloud movement progressed from their humble beginnings.

Lil Yachty and Juice WRLD via @lilyachty on IG

In the last few years, we have seen a resurgence in the underground culture following the events of 2020. COVID-19 lockdowns sparked a new flame in young rappers, reviving the online culture that allowed for such prominent advancements in the last decade.

Yeat, Autumn!, BabySantana, Lil Tecca, Ken Car$on, KayCyy, Dro Kenji, TyFontaine and others have proven that the SoundCloud algorithm still has plenty to offer for newcomers in the industry. Within the last two years, each of these impromptu stars has cultivated a distinctive space in hip-hop, bringing forth a new golden age of underground sub-genres.

Yeat and Drake via @yeat on IG

This new wave is still in the infant stages as adolescent content creators continue to push the boundaries on a daily basis. Here at OGM, we have had the privilege of following and interviewing these stars-in-the-making, with more coming in by the day.

Keep up with the next generation of SoundCloud rappers as we change the narrative one artist at a time. Gone are the days of dismissing bedroom producers and rappers — time will tell who prospers in this rapidly evolving genre.

Meet The New Wave