From the Underground

The Latest Music Trend, Emo Rap, Provides KCHS Students with a Platform to Express Themselves

Yesenia Chavez, Reporter

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The growing rise of nostalgic hip-hop from the 80’s has captured the attention of today’s adolescents. This subgenre is known as emo rap, sad rap, Soundcloud rap, etc.

From the depths of a music app known as SoundCloud, two types of rappers have emerged: aggressive and emotional, according to Missy Scheinberg. “At the aggressive end of the spectrum you’ll find speaker-blowing production, shockingly savage lyrics and explosively abrupt screams…real-life violence,” Scheinberg states. “Then you’ve got the emotional SoundCloud rappers..the combination of melodic flows, lo-fi production, emo samples, and law-breaking troubled teens may sound absurd on paper, but it makes sense within the greater context of hip-hop history.”

This wave came on strong with artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Juice WRLD, Lil Peep, Trippie Redd, Kid Cudi, and the list goes on. What’s the appeal? In an exclusive interview with Complex, Lil Uzi Vert  speaks about his rise to the top, “The thing that makes me different from any other rapper is that I usually talk real crazy in my songs,” he states. “It’s usually true. I’m not gonna lie to you.”

This subculture has gained a controversial reputation with portraying the darker meanings of life as something relatable to many. Most commonly, the dark themes of heartbreak, drug abuse, loneliness, and mental health, makes the appeal even stronger. Mental health has garnered more attention this past year with notable artists, a few of whom passed away, talking about their issues openingly. As a strong theme found in this genre, the emotional atmosphere really became the symbol of this culture. “People tend to ignore the ugly side of the world we live in and what people go through like living in violent areas, poverty, suicide etc,” Daniella Bedolla, KCHS Senior, explains. “If there are other people that are dealing with these problems just like these artists, they can realize that they are not the only ones going through this.” Many feel connections to these artists because they either share the same lifestyle, common personal issues, or common beliefs.

KCHS Senior, Alexis Avila, states this music genre has changed the way he views the world around him. “I like this genre because it shows me how other people view the world,” Avila states.“It makes me ask myself if people nowadays are really who they are or are they just another person acting.”

In an interview with Pitchfork with the now fallen Lil Peep, he explains his mental health in his music tracks, “I suffer from depression and some days I wake up and I’m like… I wish I didn’t wake up. That was part of why I moved to California, trying to get away from the place that was doing that to me, and the people I was around. I realized it was just myself—it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain.” KCHS Senior, Randy Rodriguez, believes that it’s good for artists to open up to the world about their mental health. “Unfortunately, mental health is a real thing that most artists are affected by,” Rodriguez states. “It’s a good thing to even talk about violence.”

Although many people don’t like the idea of violence being opened up to the young generation, this is nothing new. Edy Silva, a KCHS Senior, believes speaking about violence is a complicated subject. “All I know is that it sells,” stated Silva. Violence is not an acceptable characteristic, but putting it in the limelight really shows how the world can be. Despite artists rapping about mental health and violence, drugs becomes another added layer to the underground cake.

The media blames these rappers for influencing people about drugs and making them seem presentable. It’s being considered as the rap movement associated with death. Many songs mention Xanax, Fentanyl, Oxycontin, and Valium. As artists speak and show such drugs, its to show their lifestyle or their way of a coping mechanism. Trey Alston, from Revolt Tv, an American music-oriented digital cable television network, elaborates on the effects of drug use in emo rap and young teenagers. “This can be damaging for fans who don’t have the best judgment and decide to emulate these lifestyles,” Alston states. “But, then again, so can posting liquor, [explicit] images or any of the other things that society deems problematic.”

Whether it’s drugs, violence, or mental health, emo rap really emulates these lifestyles to be seen by millions. These topics may be looked down upon, but it’s very common to see most teenagers listening to this genre. They could be oblivious to the true reality of some of these themes, or they sense that they are not alone on their journey for help. Matt Teffer from Financial Review considers this whole wave as creating an easy pavement for “adolescent rebellion.” Ultimately, music helps students heal or feel comfortable fitting into society. Students do understand the intensity of the situations these rappers claim to go through, but listening to their tracks makes them devoted fans who give the rappers a reason to continue.