“You might not get it now, but in five years it’s going to make sense,” Muddymya attests in SoundCloud’s award-winning documentary series SCENES — emanating the raw, versatile energy the new wave has brought forth in recent years.
The music platform’s latest episode “SCENES: Plugg” (June 7) not only shines a light on the rising plugg rap movement bred from the streets of Atlanta, but continues to showcase how SoundCloud has put power in the hands of the artist — becoming a marquee cultural force for independent voices in the internet era.
Featuring appearances from tastemakers in Kenny Mason, UnoTheActivist, Yung Bans, 645AR, SojaBrat, BkTheRula, BabySantana and more, the film focuses on the many aspects of plugg’s rise to the forefront of the underground. Detailing the impact of pioneer producer MexikoDro had on the blossoming Atlanta scene, many of the aforementioned artists praised the ATL beat-maker for sparking the birth of the “video game” type, atmospheric sub-genre. “If you got on a Dro beat, you were bound to go up,” Yung Bans said, alluding to MexikoDro’s influence in the Atlanta underground and hip-hop as a whole.
“In 2013, the “PLUGG!” beat tag was first heard via producers Stoopidxool and Mexikodro in the Atlanta scene. They began combining the tag with a mixture of hazy, ambient instrumentals and trap production. Immediately, this sound caught on, creating space for rappers to flex their own flows over this new type of music. Soon, the city caught on and plugg became the preferred style of up-and-comers everywhere.SCENES: Plugg, SoundCloud
Among the many sights and sounds the documentary brings forth, the rise of Nebu Kiniza‘s 2016 hit “Gassed Up” initially jumpstarted plugg’s standing in rap’s current soundscape. Conjuring creativity from other surrounding fringe stars, plugg quickly caught fire in Atlanta’s underground, as acclaimed producer CashCache! described the sound as “simple chords, hard-hitting 808s, and repetitive, thoughtful, addictive melodies.”
However, it’s evolved into something far greater than that. This revitalized SoundCloud era is filled with blossoming talent championing the versatility of alternative genres or “micro-genres” — derivative of plugg’s initial wave. With pluggnb (spotlighted by stars in DMV rapper KA$HDAMI) and hyperpop (popularized by Midwxst, Glaive and more) becoming the preferred sounds for underground talent, “everything is plugg” in one way or another.
“Atlanta hip-hop made a foundation with OG stars from Outkast to Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, and Uno, but there’s a new wave of stars out here today,” Bear1Boss said, who proclaimed that he “invented hyperpop” on camera. “The new plugg sound is like rock, pop, punk stars…this generation puts an emphasis on rage and futuristic swag. In the beginning everybody had a live mixtape in Atlanta, now everyone is on SoundCloud.”
Simply put, Atlanta will always be a hotspot for the culture — and the birth of plugg was just the start. Stemming from SoundCloud rap pioneers in Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and others making their mark on Atlanta’s ambient, hard-hitting soundscape, the popularity of plugg primarily came from word-of-mouth in the community. Collectives in Pink Flamingo, Studio37 and NoDisco were integral to the spread of the sound throughout the city’s streets. Department Store — Atlanta’s de facto influencer incubator for underground talent — was the place where artists were able to be themselves and perform their music, as Carti, Uzi, Uno and Yachty have all graced its stage at one point or another.
As the new wave continues to cultivate a variety of innovative sounds, female phenom BkTheRula embodies the overall sentiment of the new wave’s grip on the culture. While Atlanta is referred to as “an area to be yourself” throughout the film, BK’s been wholeheartedly embraced in the underground regardless of her being a female. “The only way I did this shit is by being myself,” BK said, inspiring the next generation of creatives to be “up next” just like her.
Watch SoundCloud’s original documentary “SCENES: Plugg” below!
About SoundCloud’s “SCENES”
“SCENES” is SoundCloud’s popular music discovery initiative surfacing fast-growing artist and fan communities on the platform and beyond, representing what’s next in the future of music. Debuting in 2021, the series has featured a deep dive into three distinct culture-shifting music movements – East African Underground, PC Music, and Digicore – which garnered over 1.7 million views on YouTube, won an AVA Digital Award, and earned nominations from the Shorty and Webby Awards.
Coinciding the episode, SoundCloud and Pandora debuted “Plugg by SoundCloud” – a new station surfacing the hottest artists in and around the plugg scene who are emerging on SoundCloud. Listen to “Plugg by SoundCloud” on Pandora today. For the latest updates on “SCENES: Plugg” and more to come from “SCENES,” stay tuned to SoundCloud’s Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.