Hip-hop music is ever-changing and has developed many voices over the years. Absorbing different styles of music, instruments, rhythms, and cultural traits, it is always evolving into something new. Given how many artists with different outlooks and experiences express themselves within the medium, it is a melting pot of ideas, references and influences. However, there are some types of sound that have been popular lately or are gaining friction and have a chance of raising to the top in the nearest future.
The Shades of Trap
Trap music has seen its rise since the early 2000s and it seems that it is not going anywhere from the charts and the hearts. In other words, Trap is a de-facto standard for modern hip-hop production. The foundation stays pretty much the same: 808-like sub-bass, prominent hi-hat, auto-tuned melodies. However, different rappers and producers try to expand the trap sound, using unusual or exotic samples – like the sounds of nature or folk instruments. You can hear this, for example, on Gunna’s recent track “Who You Foolin”, where a typical trap groove is accompanied by guzheng – Chinese folk instrument. Similarly, “What’s the Move” by Young Thug, which features also a verse of Lil Uzi Vert’s rapping, has bird chirping atop of booming 808s. It is safe to assume that demand for hip-hop trap beats will stay high, but perhaps we will hear more attempts to bring something new to the table to diversify the sound.
Emo Rap: The Hit Combo
Emo rap’s popularity exploded in recent years. Emerging from SoundCloud originally, it took off and became one of the most listened to genres on major streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube. Maintaining enough qualities to call it a hip-hop genre, such as rapping and beats, it borrows some of the elements from emo, indie rock, and pop punk: electric guitar as a primary instrument, emotional vocals and lyrics. Despite the untimely deaths of the key figures of this style – Lil Peep, XXXTentacion – it remains relevant. Juice WRLD’s recent track “Robbery”, although featuring no guitar samples, is otherwise in line with the emo rap aesthetics, with its heart-breaking piano riffs and tear-shedding vocals and lyrics. Similarly to his predecessors, maestro’s passing away in 2019 caused his top 5 hit “Lucid Dreams” to return to the charts. This level of dedication from the fans shows that the emo rap genre is alive, and we should definitely look forward to hearing more sorrow from our speakers in the years to come.
Some rap artists like to keep their beats similar to one another to be consistent and cater to the spiritual needs of their audience. Others, on the other hand, like to experiment and collaborate across genres. For example, one of the most notorious rappers, who started on SoundCloud, JPEGMAFIA, while drawing inspiration as a producer from noise and industrial, has dropped a record with a renowned Future Bass producer Flume called “How to Build a Relationship”. Gritty and aggressive rapping bizarrely mixes with the dreamy synthesizers of electronica, producing a very ear-catching track. There is another less extreme example of electronica making it to the top of the charts: otherwise a mainstream single Denzel Curry’s “RICKY” that features a slowed-down sample from “Twisted Blood” by a British producer Lukid. This might be an indication of an emerging trend – using samples or even the production style of electronic music in hip-hop beats.