Since SoundCloud was created in 2008 — man, that seems like centuries ago — the digital platform has become a home for burgeoning creativity and looming talent. Hip Hop artists, and even stars who grew to make names for themselves in many other genres, have been no exception to this trend with many high-charting superstars attributing their humble beginnings to the app.
Where would music today be without SoundCloud? Thankfully, we will never know. From Playboi Carti to Rico Nasty, here’s a list of 12 iconic artists of the SoundCloud rap era. Do you see any of your favorites below?
XXXTentacion emerged as a young rap star who brazenly mixed genres like emo and Hip Hop to concoct intimate creations of his own. He released “Vice City” to SoundCloud and became the next internet sensation in over a year. With his 2015 hit “Look At Me!,” the Florida-born rapper quickly rose to viral superstardom. The rapper died in 2018.
2. Playboi Carti
Playboi Carti has the SoundCloud-era rapper story that many dream of; the famous “Magnolia” making him the shining star of the SoundCloud rap pack. Carti’s fun, ad-libbing lyrical madness over kaleidoscopic beats has landed him at the top of the charts. His music carved a lane of its own, inspiring a revival in the “Milly Rock” dance or contributing the famous “Yo, Pierre,” earworm that continues to burrow into our minds ’til this day.
3. Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert is known today as a rap idol and fashion icon, rocking a distinct punk rock look that goes along perfectly with the sound of his music. The Philadelphia-born artist is known for hits such as “XO Tour Lif3,” which has garnered over a billion streams. Uzi is still making incredible bangers, with the recent release “Just Wanna Rock” landing in the top 10 songs of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Before taking the rap world by storm, the musician built up a loyal fanbase with early songs on SoundCloud and became the most-followed artist on the app in 2016.
4. Juice WRLD
The Chicago rapper curated a sound that oozes melancholy over attention-grabbing melodies. Juice WRLD, who rose to the top with songs like “All Girls Are the Same” and “Lucid Dreams,” and a mish-mash of emo, pop-punk and rap influences, found his footing on SoundCloud. He came to harness the depressive-ridden sounds of the SoundCloud rap era to new heights. He unfortunately died in 2019 at the tender age of 21. His songs remain widespread, with achievements like 79 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 under the artist’s belt.
5. Lil Yachty
Lil Yachty had the rap world in shambles when his nautical-inspired hit “1 Night” went viral and practically made him a star overnight. Although Yachty was ridiculed for his simplistic but catchy lyrics and melodies, or “bubble-gum trap” as he once called it, he soon took over the internet and has remained there. He has also evolved his sound since then, his latest psychedelic rock album, Let’s Start Here, serving as proof. Yachty’s auto-tuned vocals often provide a fitting soundtrack for the lives of the younger generation, fitting that TikTok vibe perfectly.
6. Post Malone
Post Malone has sustained massive success since he released the SoundCloud-bound single “White Iverson.” With platinum hits like “Sunflower” and “Congratulations,” it’s safe to say that Post Malone figured out how to use the algorithm for fame and isn’t planning to stop anytime soon.
BbyMutha, or BIG MUTHA as she deems herself, is a rapper from Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is known for bringing old-school Southern Hip Hop influences like La Chat to modern rap sounds. Easily one of the most talented musicians to emerge from the SoundCloud rap scene, the mother of four quickly gained a reputation for spitting the most clever yet relatable lyrics about Black womanhood, queerness, motherhood and more. Songs like “Heavy Metal” locked in her status in the rap canon for greatness. She also never quit releasing music on alternative digital platforms, regularly utilizing Bandcamp to show off her latest hits.
8. Rico Nasty
Rico Nasty came onto the scene with her bold and unapologetic scream-rap sound mixed with saccharine pop sweetness also known as “Sugar Trap.” The rapper first made waves on SoundCloud with hits like “iCarly,” a bubble-gum pop-rap track that loses no edge as Nasty spits about hitting a lick with her drug supplier. Slowly but surely, songs like “Poppin,” which later appeared on the “Insecure” Season 2 soundtrack, and “Smack A B**ch,” cemented Rico Nasty’s rise from SoundCloud rap to mainstream music. With multi-genre musical influences from metal, punk, rock and more, the Maryland-born rapper’s sound and style quickly captured our hearts and catapulted her to stardom.
9. Asian Doll
Asian Doll brought a unique sound and look that defined the SoundCloud era for years. The Texas-born rapper wasn’t afraid to mix the old school rap with an updated flow, which got her respect from her peers and a loyal army of fans. The rapper was signed to Gucci Mane’s label and went on to collaborate with other notable rap figures like PnB Rock and Yachty.
10. Molly Brazy
Molly Brazy knows how to spit the most relatable lyrics, like her age-old moniker, “Never trust a b**ch gossipin’ and talkin’ s**t,” in “Trust None.” Never losing her gritty approach to music, Molly Brazy has done nothing but keep it incredibly real. Brazy made the 2010s rap girl era iconic, thanks to her collaborations with artists like Cuban Doll in songs like “Let It Blow,” which is still being quoted by millennials and Gen Zers today.
11. Trippie Redd
Trippie Redd grabbed the attention of the algorithms thanks to his dedication to the emo rap sound. With hits like “Topanga” and “Love Scars,” Redd showed that he wasn’t afraid to mix any other genre and rap. Furthermore, the musician is admired for the evolution of his sound from the SoundCloud rap era, with his album A Love Letter to You being released to critical acclaim. The Ohio-born rapper is a hit-making machine.
12. Ski Mask The Slump God
The list would not be complete without Ski Mask the Slump God. Rolling with SoundCloud partner-in-crime and fellow member of the Members Only club XXXTentacion, he created a unique sound that boasted clever, if shocking, lyrics delivered with a fast and concise flow. Thanks to SoundCloud exclusives like” Catch Me Outside,” he quickly gained a cult following on the platform.