Cloud rap

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Cloud rap is a subgenre of Southern rap and trap music that has several sonic characteristics of lo-fi in its hazy, dreamlike and relaxed sound.[3][4] Many music experts credit rapper Lil B and producer Clams Casino as the early pioneers of this style.[3][4] The term "cloud rap" is related to its internet birth and its ethereal style.[5]


Cloud rap initially came out of Atlanta, Houston, and Memphis during the late 2000s.[6] The term "cloud rap" is popularly used in reference to lo-fi, hazy rap.[3]

Elements of cloud rap, like lo-fi and dreamy atmospheres, can be heard as early as 2001 with cLOUDDEAD's self-titled album. Later in 2006 more building blocks, such as hazy and relaxed sounds, can be found in Viper's second album, Ready...and Willing.[7] Some have attributed the term to rapper Lil B. In a 2009 article, music writer Noz wrote that rapper Lil B showed him a CGI image of a castle in the clouds and said "that's the kind of music I want to make," crediting Lil B with the coining of the term.[3] Producer Clams Casino has also been credited with pioneering the cloud rap sound as early as 2010 through collaborations with Lil B.[4]

The term was also used in the Space Age Hustle blog's compilation of songs, 3 Years Ahead: The Cloud Rap Tape.[3] The compilation consists of songs that fall in the cloud rap genre.[3] The genre garnered mainstream attention in 2011 with rapper A$AP Rocky's debut mixtape, Live. Love. A$AP.[8]


Cloud rap is rhythmically similar to lo-fi and chill-wave but distinguishes itself with distorted, psychedelic samples and the inclusion of rap.[6] The genre takes inspiration from the "diversity of influences and the easy accessibility" that cloud computing entails.[9] Such influences include hip hop, drum and bass, grime, and trip hop, R&B, dance, indie, rock, and pop music genres.[9]

The label "cloud" denotes distinct characteristics of the genre such as its "hazy," ethereal aesthetic (in terms of both aural and visual expression) and its ambiguity as a genre without clearly defined borders.[5] Cloud rap's lyrics sometimes revolve around themes of love and betrayal, as well as more typical themes found in popular music such as sex, drugs, and alienation.[8] Frequently vocalists use nonsensical catchphrases and Twitter baits, such as interjections like "swag," and references to being "based," which highlights a sense of self-aware absurdity as an attempt at parody while embracing its genesis in Internet culture.[citation needed]

Cloud rap pulls from a diversity of rap sounds and locales: from both the East and West Coasts and the South.[9] In particular, cloud rap often utilizes looped samples from female singers, and often from those whose voices have an ethereal quality.[9] Often, cloud rap is released independently of record labels, and cloud rap artists rely on internet services (such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and Twitter) to distribute and promote their music.[citation needed]

Artists and producers[edit]

Clams Casino produced three songs on Lil B's 2009 mixtape 6 Kiss.[10] In 2011, Clams Casino assisted A$AP Rocky in producing Live. Love. A$AP, one of the most listened to mixtapes in cloud rap with 1,164,114 listeners.[9] The mixtape consists of common cloud rap elements and themes such as drug use, sex, and self-reflection.[11][12]

Like Clams Casino, Imogen Heap entered this genre in 2009, with her music being sampled by Clams Casino on Lil B's song "I'm God".[10] Heap has since been sampled repeatedly by Lil B. Heap further cemented herself in the cloud rap genre by being featured on Live. Love. A$AP in 2011.[9]

Swedish artist Yung Lean became an eminent cloud rap artist in 2013 when the video for his single "Ginseng Strip 2002" went viral.[8]

Houston based rapper Viper is often credited as being an early pioneer of cloud rap. Most of his songs contain simple self produced beats using a Yamaha Motif or FL Studio. His most popular album, 2008's You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack, contains Lo-fi style beats that sound similar to many modern cloud rap songs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The history of cloud rap | Red Bull Music". Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  2. ^ says, Chris Ellenwood (10 April 2017). "I write raps not tragedies: Finally! The emo-goth-rap hybrid you didn't realise you were waiting for is here".
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The FACT Dictionary: How dubstep, juke and cloud rap got their names". FACT Magazine. 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  4. ^ a b c "Collect This Rare Clams Casino and Lil B Interview About the New Clams Casino Album '32 Levels'". Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  5. ^ a b Wikström, Peter; van Ooijen, Erik (2018). Post-authentic digitalism in cloud rap. Popular Music Discourses: Authenticity and Mediatization. Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  6. ^ a b "What happened to the hip-hop micro-genre cloud rap?". Red Bull. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  7. ^ Sunbleach. "Chamber 38 releases "You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack" by Viper – Sunbleach ☀". Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  8. ^ a b c "Cloud Rap: The Spacey, Cyber-Born Hip-Hop Subgenre". Highsnobiety. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "A$AP Rocky: Cloud Rap and Live at the Melkweg". Culturedarm. 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  10. ^ a b Green, Dylan. "Clams Casino Interview: Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, "Cloud Rap"". DJBooth. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  11. ^ Lester, Paul (2011-10-12). "New band of the day – No 1,125: ASAP Rocky". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  12. ^ Live.Love.A$AP - A$AP Rocky | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2020-10-29