Cloud rap is a term often stitched together with various other niche, sometimes obscure genres meant to help classify and describe the intricate tapestry of modern hip hop. Yet, these kinds of terms sometimes end up doing more harm than good in terms of actually explaining what things sound like; especially when they’re followed by another twenty super vague terms. That’s why we decided to compile a shortlist of the artists that often come to mind when people conjure that very particular couple of words – ‘cloud rap’. In other words, this is our cloud rap crash course!
With the help of producer Clams Casino, Lil’ B’s early musical output is often considered to be one of cloud rap’s first concrete manifestations. In fact, he’s often regarded as one of cloud rap’s pioneers and founding fathers. A distinguished title if we’ve ever heard one. Lil’ B’s cloud rap phase is characterized by glossy, roomy beats drowned in reverb and Lil’ B’s lazy Saturday hangover flow, floating above and below the beat’s actual tempo. While Lil’ B’s (perhaps intended) lack of technical proficiency was a major put-off for some, most people agree that the production of these tracks was nothing short of stellar.
Okay, so if you thought that Lil’ B’s music was a bit too rugged and unrefined for your taste, you’re definitely not going to enjoy Viper. One of rap’s most prolific outsiders and the true father of cloud rap, Viper has gained a devout cult following. His music is hard to swallow. His comically deep voice and off-putting flow definitely make him one of the most polarizing voices in cloud rap.
A$AP Rocky’s first two albums were undoubtedly an incredible moment for cloud rap. It was the first time that the genre, which up until this point had been occupying just the nooks, crannies, and recesses of Soundcloud and music forums, had finally hit the mainstream. And while Rocky’s music undoubtedly stems from cloud rap, it also signals a certain departure from it, which, in turn, has made some diehard cloud rap disregard Rocky’s music.