25. Tay-K "The Race"
Tay-K has been the Soundcloud phenomenon of summer 2017 and “The Race” is why. The song exhibited an element of realism that some tirelessly seek from rap, and its release on the day of Tay-K’s arrest for egregious acts was a smart ploy. It’s immature, juvenile and insanely stupid but what we’ve learned over the course of Soundcloud’s existence, is that those are the exact elements often embraced. “The Race,” produced by S.Diesel and released as a DJ Phatt exclusive, instantly caught attention from major names, becoming a favorite of Lil Yachty and many more. It has become inescapable on Soundcloud and the story behind it has played an essential part, but even if Tay-K never gets a chance to create another track “The Race” will live as the premier song of a moment on the platform.
24. Father ft ILoveMakonnen & Key! "Look At Wrist"
The timing was perfect when Father released his 2014 track “Look At Wrist,” the cooking dance was at its peak and this track became the quintessential pairing. It fully exposed Soundcloud to Father’s minimalist production style as the song gained traction with the help of Key! and ILoveMakonnen, both of whom were on the verge of breaking on a major level. The track’s memorable ad libs would go on to influence future Soundcloud stars, opening the floodgates for a looser style of rap to make its impact (Father’s fellow/former Awful Records member Playboi Carti would benefit from this). Father sounds sedated and the song feels as if it’s moving in slow motion, but that’s part of the beauty, and if nothing else Father’s “Look at God” ad lib makes it all worth it.
23. Divine Council ft $ilkmoney "PS42WW$"
For most of the world “P$42WW$” was an introduction to Icy Twat’s dream like production that took Soundcloud by storm. The song quickly gained an audience as $ilkmoney’s deep voice and rapid fire flow over the airy and kick-heavy Icy Twat beat meshed well together. The song also took advantage of a Soundcloud platform that embracs the absurd, with $ilkmoney belting “P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney” from Finding Nemo repeatedly. It was a great introduction to artists who clearly had talent, but didn’t take themselves too seriously, and it received the love it deserved.
22. XXXTentacion "Garrette's Revenge"
When the controversial (which seems to be a trend) XXXTentacion dropped “Garrette’s Revenge” it was a surprise for many. His previous hit “Look At Me” was climbing both the Soundcloud and Billboard charts and most were ready to pigeonhole him. But “Garrette’s Revenge” diverted them away from that, as his acoustic ballad displayed his versatility and was the song that solidified him as one of the faces of Soundcloud. While we could have easily given this spot to XXX's latter hit, we specifically chose this record for its more unique sound, and as a bearer of proof that XXX might be more than a one-hit-"Look At Me"-wonder.
21. Trippie Redd "Love Scars"
Among the tiring Lil Uzi Vert comparisons, Trippie Redd erupted onto the Soundcloud scene in 2017 and the track that lead the charge was “Love Scars.” On “Love Scars” Trippie Redd displays his vocal range as his melodic near-scream over the booming Elliott Trent beat was something Soundcloud had never seen done this well before. Trippie is able to transition effortlessly from his most over-the-top to something more subdued. His ability to match his vocal pain with the lyrical agony felt genuine, and propelled “Love Scars” into one of Soundcloud’s great heartbreak tracks.
20. Russ "Ain't Nobody Takin My Baby"
Russ’ rise through the Soundcloud ranks was one of the most interesting ones as his true do-it-yourself process helped him to cultivate a fanbase which admired him for his independence. Gradually developing one of the largest cult fanbases on the platform, despite not receiving the media coverage that some in similar popularity (and on this list) were experiencing. The self-produced “Ain’t Nobody Takin My Baby” was vital in catching the attention of the mainstream media as his tranquil singing voice and radio ready rap flow were on display. Russ is a Soundcloud success story and although his ascension wasn’t as exponential as most it showed that there is still more than one way to make it.
19. Denzel Curry ft Yung Simmie & Robb Bank$ "Threatz"
One of the last great moments for the Raider Klan before all of the members officially branched out into their own entities was “Threatz.” An early Soundcloud hit, the song was an example of Denzel Curry’s star potential, and along with Yung Simmie and Robb Bank$ they created a 2013 banger. One of the most important aspects of the track is the Ronny J production, as this was one of the first looks into his bombastic style that he would bring to XXXTentacion and Lil Pump years later to much success. Denzel helped establish a Soundcloud scene in South Florida and “Threatz” was the framework.
18. Madeintyo "Uber Everywhere"
Madeintyo’s “Uber Everywhere” came out at the ideal time. There was a fascination around Uber that he swiftly capitalized on it. Rappers were name dropping the service left and right, but Madeintyo took it to the next level by creating an entire song about it-- one that his peers could very much relate to. The song gradually became a hit and Madeintyo’s uncomplicated lyrics and infectious ad libs, (“Shorty bad as hell, yeah, with them Kylie Jenner lips”) helped it become a Soundcloud staple, and highly remix-able.
17. Lil Peep "Gym Class"
Before the face tattoos, Lil Peep released his Soundcloud game changer “Gym Class.” Naturally the comparisons to those before him, such as Bones and Spooky Black existed, but he was able to carve out a space in more of a middle zone than the prior two. The track, produced by Killstation, has a long buildup and a hazy background under the drums. Lil Peep’s uncommon flow channels grunge trends, as the emphasis placed on his words made it clear that the Kurt Cobain influence had reached the Soundcloud generation. This stylistic choice opened up Lil Peep to an audience craving music such as this and would establish him as a Soundcloud powerhouse with a legitimate core fan base. “Gym Class” is where Lil Peep honed in his style and realized exactly who he was as an artist.
16. Nav "Myself"
Nav was surrounded by mystique at one point. Information about him was scarce other than he was making catchy, self-produced tunes that were having a major impact on Soundcloud. This all intensified with the release of the quotable and self loathing “Myself.” his is the essential Nav track, the one which shot him into stardom as an OVO Sound Radio mainstay and establish him enough to illicit collaborations with Metro Boomin (well, in between, nab the same management as The Weeknd). The song was inescapable and there was true fascination by the Soundcloud community as the number of plays was staggering. The song's content wasn’t typical for a hit of this stature with its incredibly somber chorus “When I’m sober I just don’t like who I am.” This track helped to carve out a lane for Nav and reveal that there is a huge audience searching for pessimistic bangers.
15. Bones, Xavier Wulf & Chris Travis "WeDontBelieveYou"
It’s difficult to talk about Soundcloud without mentioning Bones, Xavier Wulf & Chris Travis. When they first arrived on the platform there wasn’t much, but they took a sound developed in their Raider Klan days and polished it, quickly becoming one of the earliest to form an extremely loyal fanbase. The eerie and dark sound of their music was like nothing else on the site and it was a crucial reason why they stood out. They embraced the weirdness and explored themes that weren’t perceived as cool within the rap community. “WeDontBelieveYou” is the culmination of their early Soundcloud days, uniting the three for a haunting posse cut. The flows are unique but fit together like a puzzle piece over the Purpdogg beat, which includes a Boards of Canada sample and the very 2014 extreme rattling hi-hats.
14. Tee Grizzely "First Day Out"
One of the most amazing parts of Soundcloud is how an artist can seemingly come out of nowhere and within months become a household name. This is exactly what happened to Tee Grizzely with the release of “First Day Out.” The track gradually built in popularity, before exploding, eventually earning Tee Grizzely shoutouts from both Lebron James and Jay Z. Similar in structure to Meek Mills’ “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, it starts out fairly reserved and as the the track continues the energy accelerates creating one of the rare tracks that actually lives up to its lengthy buildup. Lyrically, the track is amusing, violent and reflective, thus creating an experience distinct from much of the other rap on Soundcloud, and eually, much of the other songs that appear on this list.
13. OG Maco ft Key! "U Guessed It"
As the years have gone by the stamp OG Maco left on Soundcloud has been ignored, but during his brief high, “U Guessed It” was unavoidable. Vocally, the track was all over the place as OG Maco would screech, scream and whisper throughout. The hook quickly became a sensation as the Soundcloud community fell in love with OG Maco wilding out over Brandon Thomas’ haunting keys. The song worked as a bridge from the early days of Soundcloud to the current years, as this song was vital in shaking people of their uneasiness towards less traditional rap flows, and less traditional rap in general.
12. Ski Mask the Slump God ft XXXTentacion "Take A Step Back"
It was only a matter of time before a track on Soundcloud reached this level of ignorance and noise. The music on the platform had been slowly building to this from the bass in “Threatz,” to the screeching in “U Guessed It,” to the flat-out screamo in some Bones' tracks, Soundcloud had been waiting for artists with the ability to take all of that to the next level. “Take A Step Back” is that, and a major reason behind it is the speaker blowing Ronny J beat whose boosted bass would overshadow most vocals if XXXTentacion wasn’t shouting the chorus at the top of his lungs. Ski Mask the Slump God is also able to show off the flow that has made him so popular, while his chemistry with XXXTentacion is on full display.
11. Ugly God "Water"
Ugly God’s Soundcloud ascent is extremely interesting, when he first started getting some buzz there was a lot of confusion surrounding him. The name was absurd and the song titles were even more out there-- the confusion stemmed from whether or not Ugly God was simply a parody rapper, or if he was for real. The self-produced “Water” was the track that changed all of that. The second you hear the “Thanks Ugly God” producer tag, and the chorus starts, it's clear that there is song-making talent here. The chorus is catchy, the production is mellow yet bouncy and Ugly God’s knack for foolish lyrics all make “Water” special.
10. Lil Pump "D Rose"
A common issue with our Soundcloud rappers is that it's often unclear whether or not we should take them seriously, listeners often saw them as spoofs of the genre that would quickly fall off. Lil Pump, at 16-years old, didn’t seem to be trying too hard, and reasonably most thought that there was nothing there. It appears listeners began to come around when Lil Pump released the irresistible “D Rose.” The beat starts out without about 10 seconds of gunshots, and once the poorly-mixed beat drops, Lil Pump begins to chant “100 on my wrist 80 on my wrist” and “D Rose” repeatedly. There is no substance to it at all and little care is put into the track-- but that’s all part of the charm that has made Lil Pump a Soundcloud star in 2017.
9. Kodak Black "No Flocking"
Kodak’s buzz had already been growing immensely but it was “No Flocking” that shot him into stardom. Kodak’s personality, voice and lyrics differentiated him from many of his peers and it helped him build a dedicated following. “No Flocking” began to cause a stir as videos surfaced online of entire crowds reciting the lyrics word for word, a rare hit that is catchy without even having a chorus. Since then, Kodak has remained in a pool of controversy, but either way his early hit is undeniable.
8. Post Malone "White Iverson"
Post Malone’s “White Iverson” caught on almost instantly as the easily recitable song gained a million plays within its first month. The smooth Rex Kudo production, combined with Post’s silky voice and ability to form a hook, propelled the song to ridiculous heights. It was fun, light and a homage to one of the most popular athletes of an era. It is no surprise that Post Malone has continued to succeed.
7. Fetty Wap ft Drake "My Way (Remix)"
The era of Drake’s career where he would drop loosies on Soundcloud is an overlooked one. Between 2014 and 2015 Drake released an abundance of songs onto the platform, some became anthems like the Soulja Boy-featuring “We Made It,” and some became cultural phenomenons like “Back to Back.” But the best of the bunch was his remix to Fetty Wap’s already superb track “My Way.” Fetty Wap was not only one of the dominant forces of Soundcloud but was also unavoidable in society. Fetty Wap had summer '15 on lock, and Drake, arguably the most powerful rapper in the industry, replaced Monty on the remix resulting in a heaven-sent combination. Fetty Wap’s impossible-not-to-sing-along chorus and one of Drake’s most simple and pop ready verses (“I like all my S’s with two lines through them”) helped make this song one of the standout Soundcloud tracks, of all time.
6. Unotheactivist ft Thouxanbandfauni "Parkin Lot Pimpin"
If someone asked which song encapsulated the sound of Soundcloud during its peak, “Parkin Lot Pimpin” would be it. It’s one of the first tracks to use the song structure which took over the platform, where it instantly starts without build and about 15 seconds into it, there is a cut and you hear the DJ Trapaholics tag as the track starts over. Flow wise, both Unotheactivist and Thouxanbandfauni are the beginning of an era where we first started to realize Chief Keef’s influence. Everything from the way they rhyme to their enunciation of words is a direct effect of Keef and it is an influence that is strongly felt on Soundcloud to this day. The RXLVND beat contains the choppy drums which became so popular over a Kerri Chandler deep house sample. Everything about “Parkin Lot Pimpin” screams Soundcloud and it truly is one of the platforms great tracks.
5. Lil Yachty "1Night"
Many rappers on Soundcloud have been controversial for legitimate reasons, their disrespect of women, lack of ethics and legal troubles. Lil Yachty was controversial in the most annoying way possible, as many purists of rap wanted to have a discussion about what should be considered rap, with a lot of hate and mean spirited responses targeting Lil Yachty by extension. “1Night” was an essential reason why as when his heavily auto-tuned anti-love anthem began to pick up steam many were confused. The song was unique and like nothing we had heard before, Yachty’s voice was high pitched and filled with energy and youthfulness; it was refreshing. It is also what helped establish Yachty as one of the iconic figures of the platform and as an artist who proved the crossover potential of Soundcloud rappers.
4. Bryson Tiller "Don't"
Bryson Tiller was also among the first Soundcloud artists to make it on a mainstream level, but more than just that, where Makonnen fell out of mainstream view, Bryson Tiller has remained. “Don’t” is a major reason why. Bryson quickly learned that he was best when he blended both rapping and singing, helping him create a lush single that used its quotability to skyrocket it into a legitimate hit song. Bryson stood out on a Soundcloud platform where song structure meant little by embracing a formula that many ignored and creating one of the catchiest hooks of 2015.
3. ILoveMakonnen "I Don't Sell Molly No More"
ILoveMakonnen was basically first Soundcloud star to make it. His rise was quick: his unique, often off-key voice propelled him to stardom with his most prominent song being the Drake-assisted “Tuesday” remix. Although “Tuesday” was the song that pushed him onto the Billboard charts it was “I Don’t Sell Molly No More” that solidified him as an influential Soundcloud star. The Sonny Digital beat beautifully fits Makonnen’s voice as the hook catches on instantly. Makonnen suffered from being the first with a voice this unusual, and many refused to accept him. He eventually endured a fall from both the good graces of OVO and the public. Even if Makonnen never reaches the same glory again, “I Don’t Sell Molly No More” will forever live as one of the notable Soundcloud tracks.
2. Lil Uzi Vert "XO Tour Lif3"
If this list contained only Lil Uzi Vert songs it wouldn’t be that unreasonable, but for all the great music he has dropped on Soundcloud, the peak of up to this point has got to be “XO Tour Lif3.” The song has dominated the Soundcloud charts for much of 2017 and the lyrics have become a sensation. The chorus is dark and about the closest rap has gotten to punk thus far (debate?). It is one of the great vocal performances of 2017 and truly a "Soundcloud classic."
1. Playboi Carti "Broke Boi"
“Broke Boi” is the Soundcloud blueprint. Everything after it on the streaming platform is directly influenced from it and without it, the sound may have been completely different. From the signature Mexikodro drums to the money counter sample that became unavoidable. Carti’s flow, much like Unotheactivist and Thouxanbandfauni, is birthed from Chief Keef, but his use of ad libs makes it all his own. The lyrics are memorable, the hook is irresistible and Carti had a certain charm and mystique that many have fallen in love with. If you ever found yourself confused as to why so many people cared about Carti’s debut after waiting two plus years, it's because of this.