As legend has it, “cloud rap” was coined by hip hop eccentric Lil’ B sometime around 2009. While speaking to rap journalist Noz in an interview, he pointed to a cheap airbrushed picture of a castle floating on some cumuli in the sky and exclaimed, “That’s the kind of music I want to make.” Whether that’s simply a bit of myth-making is immaterial — the term stuck, and perfectly captured the marriage of B’s B.A.S.E.D. free-form flow, ethereal Clams Casino beat aesthetics and MySpace-based distribution methods.
In the subsequent years of rising Hulkshare storage, the sound has snowballed into a heterogeneous amalgam of Southern snare patterns, spacious synth pads, blunted lyrics and indecipherable ALT-key character chains on Tumblr – and gave rise to new players like Main Attrakionz, SpaceGhostPurrp’s Rvdxr Klvn and Robb Bank$ who have continued to push hip hop deeper into the online landscape.
In this third episode of our H∆SHTAG$ series, we take a look at the cloud rap scene and the Internet’s role in its enormous growth. Can legitimate hip hop movements thrive without a firm regional rooting? What’s the point of putting out albums when a Datpiff mixtape link will do? And most importantly, does the cloud rap label even come close to describing the sound anymore? Main Attrakionz, Flatbush Zombies, Robb Banks, SpaceGhostPurrp and Piff Gang weigh in alongside noted journalists and bloggers like Femi Obasaju from Okayplayer and Rinse FM's Lily Mercer.