Emo Rap

Justis Nieves, Sport's Page Editor

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Whether we want to admit it or not, we all go through tough times. Some of us would rather keep our emotions bundled up inside and not express them. Some of us don’t want to be seen as weak, vulnerable even. But an outlet for these feelings of emotions comes in a form that many might not expect. Hip hop has been traditionally seen as bravdo and materialistic. While that is still true today, the emotions of some MCs are coming to the forefront more than ever.
“Emo Rap”, is what you can expect it to be from just looking at the phrase, are songs from rappers showing their emotional side and the challenges they face on the inside. This style of hip hop has been around for years but, now is getting more mainstream attention than ever. The idea of speaking about feelings, heartache, and loneliness really caught the ears of listeners after the release of Kanye West’s, 808’s & Heartbreaks, in 2008. As the title suggests, Kanye was dealing with two massive heartbreaks in his life that sparked the inspiration for his fourth album. In 2007 his mother, Donda West, passed away due to surgery complications and several months later his financée, Alexis Phifer, called off their engagement, ending their relationship. As a result from these two events, Kanye put out an entire album highlighting his inner struggles of loneliness, love loss, and even the conflicts of being a popular celebrity. Although some may not categorize Kanye’s album as an “emo rap album”, it created an atmosphere for rappers to speak about their personal challenges that their fans never saw first hand.
Now, about a decade later, emo rap is the looking to be the next wave of music in the mainstream. This can most notably be seen by the popularity of Logic’s, 1-800-273-8255. The song talks about the serious issue of depression and the damaging effects it can have on an individual. At one point this song ranked number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another song that topped the charts for weeks was, XO Tour Llif3 by Lil Uzi Vert. In this track Uzi speaks about a breakup, dealing with the loneliness and talks about his addiction to Xanax, in which he states, “Xanny numb the pain now. Please Xanny make it go away.” Late rapper Lil Peep was a pillar of this movement before his passing earlier this year on November 15. In songs like Awful Things and Hellboy, Peep displays his raw emotions of heartache. Florida rapper XXXTENTACION (or simply known as “X”) released his second album, 17, back in August. According to X, 17 is “for the depressed ones, the lost ones.” These feelings of sadness are expressed through the two lead singles Revenge and Jocelyn Flores.
With all these feelings being spilled on the table, what is the reaction? Is this what people want to hear today in hip hop? Junior Andre Ward commented, “Personally I’m fine with it, it provides different variation to hip hop. It goes through a multitude of genres with songs which appeals to all types of audiences. I’ve listened to these songs and related to them.” Senior Tommy Claudio stated, “I feel like [emo rap] helps people overcome their situations. X’s album helped a lot of people when it first came out. Any young person today can relate to it.”
Emo rap is therapy for these MCs. But their music isn’t just an outlet for themselves but also one for their fans and anyone listening. While mainstream hip hop will always be the most popular form of the genre and braggadocious, emo rap has an aspect that mainstream rap doesn’t carry: relatability. Everyone has struggles in their lives and everyone needs an outlet or some type of therapy. For hip hop fans, their saving grace is Emo Rap and it won’t be going away anytime soon.

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