For the uninitiated, cloud rap is an often-criticized subgenre of rap that mixes floaty, dreamlike beats and stretched snippets of vocal samples. Depending on which side of the fence you stand on, cloud rap is either the natural evolution of hip-hop or a joke that has overstayed its welcome. Cloud rappers embrace counterculture by leaning into the tropes of rap so hard that they become satirical and absurd. Like all good method actors, they never acknowledge the farcical nature of their performance, and we’re left to wonder whether they’re in on the joke — or whether they’re actually serious.
The godfather of cloud rap is also its largest figure. Known for his stream-of-consciousness lyrics that flip-flop between awkward and sincere, Lil B coined the term “cloud rap” when he said he wanted to make rap that sounded like a castle floating in the clouds.
Yes, there are a lot of “Lil” people (peeple?) in cloud rap. LiL PEEP is another in a long line of rappers who have snorted more cocaine than Scarface and slept with every girl in the room. Yes, he slept with every girl in every room. Peep’s calling card is his mix of mid-00s emo guitar lines and trap beats.
“Eee I can rap, eee eee I can rap,” sings Kitty on her song “Orion’s Belt.” That basically sums up the mission statement of the New York via Florida rapper. Formerly Kitty Pryde, she dropped the Pryde to avoid pissing off X-Men fans. Her version of giggly suburban teen girl rap is definitely a love/hate thing.
Swedish rapper Yung Lean serves to prove that the cloud rap phenomenon is not limited by borders. Like other cloud rappers, Yung Lean started out early, releasing his first single at age 16. We’re all left wondering this: Why did a 16 year old from Sweden decide to start making cloud rap?
Donning yet another pseudonym, Bedwetter is better known by his Lil Ugly Mane moniker (yes, another Lil!). After releasing 12 albums in the last 6 years, Lil Ugly Mane’s rapid-fire releases don’t leave room to doubt that he’s taking the himself seriously. But with a name like Bedwetter, we have to wonder — is he taking us seriously?
While watching the video for “Without You,” a lot of questions come to mind. How old is this kid? Why is he dressed like R. Kelly in the ‘90s? Why is this song so good? Sometimes it’s best to just let the questions marinate.
Prizing a lo-fi aesthetic has allowed Bones to release nearly 100 music videos since 2011. After watching a few, you might wonder why. With over 40 mixtapes under his belt, you’re in luck if you love the sound he’s bringing.