Cloud rap

Cloud rap is a sub-genre 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] A$AP Rocky and Yung Lean are two popular artists who have been known to incorporate cloud rap styles within their music.[3][6]


Cloud rap initially came out of Atlanta, Houston, and Memphis during the late 2000s.[7] Elements of cloud rap, such as hazy and relaxed sounds, can be heard as early as 2006 with Viper’s second album, Ready...and Willing.[8] 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.[6]

The term, “cloud rap,” is popularly used in reference to lo-fi, hazy rap.[3]


Cloud rap is rhythmically similar to lo-fi and chill-wave beats but distinguishes itself with distorted, psychedelic samples and the inclusion of rap.[7] 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.[6] 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 of 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 producersEdit

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 was 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.[6] The growth of Yung Lean skewed the more modern version of cloud rap to a “free-for-all zone” by heavily employing a melancholic, dreamy rapping style, straying slightly from traditional cloud rap sounds.

Other prominent artists include Post Malone, the late XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, $uicideboy$, and Bones.[citation needed] While these artists’ music fall into a multitude of other genres such as trap music, lo-fi, and hip hop, they have all released songs with characteristics of cloud rap such as slowed down rapping, ethereal music, and lyrics about drugs and sex.[13][14][15][16]


  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 g "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 "Post-authentic digitalism in cloud rap | Request PDF". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  6. ^ a b c d "Cloud Rap: The Spacey, Cyber-Born Hip-Hop Subgenre". Highsnobiety. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  7. ^ a b "What happened to the hip-hop micro-genre cloud rap?". Red Bull. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  8. ^ Sunbleach. "Chamber 38 releases "You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack" by Viper – Sunbleach ☀". 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
  13. ^ "Post Malone". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  14. ^ "XXXTentacion | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  15. ^ Peisner, David (2019-03-08). "The Tragedy and Torment of Lil Peep". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  16. ^ "Underground hip-hop duo $uicideboy$ deserves your attention". The Diamondback. 2016-12-12. Retrieved 2020-10-29.