ABOVE: THE SAD BOYS CREW
These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough. 2013 has seen its fair share of Internet-trending subgenres, but none has proved its longevity and legitimacy quite like the Sad Boy movement, an effort associated with an array of rappers and producers that create music for hip-hop’s more sensitive souls. Check out three of the key acts involved via the tracks we’ve selected below—feel free to cry your eyes out in the process.
Little Pain: “SMH”
Who: One of the Sad Boy pioneers and an artist many see as a focal point for the movement, Little Pain is a talented rapper whose songs delve into some deep, dark places. His most recent effort, a notably consistent mixtape entitled When Thugz Cry, has Pain waxing on everything from his dead dog to his mom kicking him out of the house to suicide attempts. Pain no doubt embodies gloom and doom, but as his mixtape title and soundcloud name (“Rapgamewarrensapp”) imply, he also has a perfectly understated sense of humor.
Song: A stand-out cut from Thugz Cry, “SMH” finds Little Pain repping his Too Sad crew over a haunting beat crafted by production wunderkind Suicideyear. Here, Pain’s narrative voice cannot be denied as something special—in the same spots where other rappers would brag about money, cars, and clothes, Pain aggressively explains to the listener that he sleeps on a couch and sheds tears “from the north to the south.”
Current Project: Be sure to download When Thugz Cry for free here.
Yung Lean: “Kyoto”
Who: A testament to sad rap’s international presence, 16-year-old Swedish rapper Yung Lean is perhaps the poster child for the movement, his psychedelic cyber videos for tracks like “Hurt” and “Ginseng Strip 2002” helping catapult the artist to Internet fame. The Arizona Iced Tea-loving lyricist’s flow is impressive, a surprise to hear and see such conceptual work produced by someone with such a small amount of years under their belt.
Song: Rapping over the wistful work of Sad Boys member Yung Gud, Lean’s flow sits in an echo chamber, slightly auto-tuned as he navigates through the beat, barely ever stopping. A lot of it is unabashedly indecipherable upon first listen, but the blend of vocals and production is all part of the package, creating a melancholic and extremely distinct sound. Current Project: Lean recently released a visual for “Kyoto.” Check out more on the rapper via his Facebook page.
Yung Sherman: “hahaha i love u”
Who: A member of Yung Lean’s Sad Boy crew, Yung Sherman is responsible for much of Lean’s beats (along with Gud). Incorporating eccentric, melancholy and sometimes even obscurely exultant sounds with the types of bass and snare big producers would die for, Sherman is important to the movement and an artist to watch in his own right.Song: Sitting somewhere between the soundtrack for an ancient arcade game and the chiptune sounds of artists like Unicornkid, Sherman creates a crazy EDM-inclined track that should make you want to dance and sob simultaneously.