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SoundCloud: the nursery of Italian rap

A new Italian rap scene is being born on the Swedish musical site that launched Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump & Travis Scott

SoundCloud: the nursery of Italian rap  A new Italian rap scene is being born on the Swedish musical site that launched Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump & Travis Scott

Something is moving in the Italian rap scene. The choice of the word "moving", although obligatory, is not used lightly: what is in the making is a movement of young rappers that, following their former American peers, are reaching success through SoundCloud, the music streaming network that makes it possible to upload your own music without any limits. In fact, Spotify seems almost outdated for new artists. Despite the platform having over one hundred million registered users and one hundred million using Spotify Premium, this is an enormous number compared to the three millions users of the site that was born in Stockholm in 2008.

The costs and desire for something new is pushing the new wave of rappers - and not only - to use SoundCloud, also because of its accessibility and alternative layout. Some of the international artists that emerged thanks to the Swedish site are Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Travis Scott and the deceased Lil Peep and XXXTentacion. Through all of them, the desire of making music of their young fans, reaching unthinkable results, becoming a part of the community in a very short time. And in the United States SoundCloud is already well tested as a vehicle of finding fame in the rap game - but especially in its subgenres like trap, cloud rap and emo rap -, however, here in Italy it's starting to have a name only in recent months. The architects of this development are guys from every city, although Rome is still the major city to give birth to the future stars of our rap scene. If three years ago we talked about a "new wave" with Sfera Ebbasta, Ghali and Dark Polo Gang among the others, today we can talk about the "SoundCloud wave" and how the network has become the nursery of the new protagonists of a new non-mainstream rap.

Before starting, it's proper to premise that this isn't the first time that big numbers are registered on SoundCloud in Italy. The first to do it were lo-fi producers like Beat Soup and MrNONSENSE, just to state a few who came on the site some years ago and were able to make hundreds of thousands of listenings, up to the million as the second name cited did. Some have understood for a while the potential of SC, using it especially as a network to upload their own beats and productions, and lesser extent texts.

So who are the protagonists of this wave? The first name that comes to my mind when we talk about the Italian SoundCloud rap scene is Fuckyourclique, a group of young Roman rappers with a recognizable style, aged 16-22 years old. Their name has already been cited lots of times in recent months because of the noise generated by them with their as ironic as well as powerful rap.

By the way, this isn't the only reason to justify their fame: in fact, Fuckyourclique, after having played and amazed at Roma Brucia event last year, they were the first SoundCloud rappers crew to organize their exclusive event in Italy with guests - they were SoundCloud rappers too - and paying audience. The first Fuckyourparty took place at Ex-Magazzini in Rome on the last 8th of September and it attracted enough attention to have a follow-up, Fuckyourparty 2, just three months later, and Fuckyourparty 3 on January 19th. During last weekend the fourth Fuckyourparty took place and it's enough to watch the archived stories on the IG profile of the event to understand the size of the involvement.

Obviously, they aren't alone in the Italian SoundCloud scene. For example, Gvngdrogv and Fiama's names are strong in the South of Italy while in the North, a group like FSK Satellite is gaining momentum in Liguria, and on solo, we find Osiris in Milan, while returning to Latium artists like Radical, Lil Frostee and Lil Kaneki who are rising, with the latter being sponsored by Bomba Dischi label with his partner Drast. Continuing, we can't forget about Campania's Lil Rumore, one of the very first to take rap to SoundCloud in Italy since 2017, Pippo Sowlo, among the greatest exponents of the so-called lol rap here in Italy, or also Young Signorino, who came on SoundCloud for a bit and despite this, we can consider him the first Italian rapper to reach popularity with a similar rapping style to that of the groups cited.

SoundCloud's advantage is actually this: in contrast to Spotify, it's less limiting towards the royalties and copyright rules, therefore it is almost normal to listen to mixtapes produced with world famous artists' beats or with instrumentals that contain samples extrapolated by more famous beats. In fact, what is standing out more are the instrumentals used by all these rappers, which are surprising and innovative. We can take for example Fuckyourclique's track "Virginia Raggi", in which Rome's mayor is accused of "closing fountains" - symbol of the lightness of this type of rap - on a simple and overwhelming beat assembled with loud basses and ad-libs that are nothing more than real screams for the majority of tracks. A few ingredients to create a song with 144.000 listens.

Needless to say, the themes of these tracks are so trivial - they literally talk about everything, from the urban atmosphere to the rap industy's typical self-exaltation, actually arriving at dissings for more known rappers or to clear parodies of other known songs. The inconsistency of the texts isn't a negative factor: if there's something SoundCloud taught us in those years is that anarchy reigns there, there are no rules. Everyone can make music on his own and upload it without fearing nothing, in a different way compared to what happens on Spotify.

Then, if there's something that works in favour of the SoundCloud rappers, that thing is the aesthetic and charm that they all share. Indeed, the SoundCloud rapper's look is about the same since Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Pump periods, with bizarre hairstyles, face tats and flashy looks. Even in Italy, we have inherited this style, but also including some niceties. For example, Gvngdrogv prefers surprising with their sarcasm and their social media communication than with garishness; on the other hand, Fuckyourclique expose in an original way, with the tracks' artworks cartoonmanga, anime or even cheeky memes-themed.

Everyone always comes under the limbo that collects every European and American rapper emerged in recent years. The cross-section is clear: on one side we have the heaviest rappers, who want to clearly "make noise" and entertain with their music, such a big piece of ours SoundCloud rappers or even more famous artists like Lil Pump himself and the first XXXtentacion; on the other side we have the so-called emo rappers, who often sing about more delicate themes like suicide and depression as Lil Peep did in his short career or Ketama126 and Side Baby did last year in "Medicine", track released on the SC first by the way.

All these characteristics elevate the SoundCloud rapper's figure as a cool and fashionable character, that everyone wants to imitate because, at the moment, the network is living its heyday and it offers lots of possibilities.

Finally, Italy has discovered a happy oasis where it is possible to make music in different modes and accomodate listeners with new tastes. In 2019, SoundCloud is a precious asset for our rap, an other vehicle to take us firmly on the international hip hop map and the umpteenth way to give birth to talents that fifty years ago would never emerge without a big musical event or a record contract.