This New Orleans duo boasts the most diverse musical range of anyone on the list. Ruby Da Cherry and $lick mention Misfits, Slayer, and Lil Wayne in the same sentence. And of course Kanye West and Outkast. Aversion to labels is pop-music’s biggest cliche, but listen to songs like “La Croix” and “Opal Ring” before plunging into the hellish “Nightmare Choir (I Been Asleep Too Long)”, and you’ll see that $UICIDEBOY$ have truly consumed the entire spectrum of punk music.
For someone native to SoundCloud, lil aaron has experienced a textbook industry emergence. He’s worked as a songwriter for pop stars like D.R.A.M. and Icona Pop, while keeping it underground with Skizzy Mars and Ro Ransom. And like any behind the scenes phenom, his star couldn’t be contained. You may have heard him on Y2K’s minor hit, “DAMN”, where lil aaron showcased a grimier version of alt. rock’s infamous vocal fry. If you like smeared, stretched out singing and trap snares, check out his mixtape BOYFRIENDZ. (It’s labeled under “Alternative Rock” on SoundCloud.)
They’ve got a name like a Radiohead song, but Ho99o9 (pronounced ‘horror’) were raised on DMX, Wu-Tang, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Today they are quintessential horrorcore— tireless beats, breathless delivery, and live concerts that look like an episode of WWE. If you feeling like taking punk all the way hardcore, listen to their latest mixtape United States of Horror.
Not all punk looks like punk. When I first heard Kevin Abstract’s single, “ECHO,” not only did I not recognize him as the guy from BROCKHAMPTON, I also thought I was dealing with a textbook emo-pop rapper. That impression got proved wrong a couple minutes into the song, where the guitar chords and Blink-182-esque drum beat dwindle to emptiness before Kevin’s voice surges back in, an instrument in itself. Anyone familiar with his discography knows that Kevin’s punk is elusive and fluid, that it comes in flashes as he shape shifts across songs.
killstation is a dude with long hair and hypnotic, spinning instrumentals. That’s as much as anyone knows about the guy. Prolific as he is mysterious, he has ten mixtapes posted to his SoundCloud page, many of them self-produced. He likes to undercut his own emo sing-rap with intense bass, like he isn’t comfortable unless there’s some dissonance. A really great track is “legionella,” off of the album vexation.
Nok From the Future
This masked man is revolutionizing a kind of precision-punk rap. From voice to appearance he seems less like a rapper, and more like a robot programmed to be a rapper. That sounds like a farce or a bad joke, but the combination lends an unexpected depth to his sadness. When the pain is too unbearable, just dissociate from humanity by retreating into this masked, robot persona. One touching song that accomplishes this is “Things Never Got Better,” featuring Kevin Abstract.
Death Grips have been doing this longer than anyone else on our list. In 2010 they brought together rap and hard-edged punk, and the results aren’t what you’d expect. At times working hard punk into epileptic synths and spoken word, Death Grips have turned inward, refining the subtleties of a style that pulled from so many different sources. Listen to “Anne Bonny” and “I’ve Seen Footage” and you’ll experience a spectrum of turn-up.
B L A C K I E
Technically called B L A C K I E (All Caps With Spaces), this is another rapper that incorporates abrasive, harcore punk. B L A C K I E also draws on rap and punk’s shared history tackling political issues with songs like “WARCHILD” and “Regrets of an Average African American Amateur Drug Lord”.
Goth Boi Clique has been the main driver behind emo-punk’s incorporation into rap music. They are a loose collective founded by Cold Hart and Wicca Phase, whose early work helped bring together pop punk and rap. Members have shifted in and out, but include (or have included) Horse Head, Lil Peep, Mackned, and Lil Tracy. Cold Hart likes twinkling melodies and drifty tempos. Check out his latest album, Downer, or the song “Luv Me.”
Anxiety, straight edge, veganism, and a love of nature come together for Joe Mulherin, who performs under the name nothing,nowhere. Where other emo-punk rappers let themselves get carried and swayed by the bounce of hip-hop or the bright colors of melody, his music drifts and crashes. His latest album, REAPER, is available on SoundCloud.