Cloud rap is a subgenre of rap that has several sonic characteristics of trap music and is known for its hazy, dreamlike and relaxed production style.[3][4] Rapper Lil B and producer Clams Casino have been identified as the early pioneers of the style.[3][4] The term "cloud rap" is derived from its internet origins and ethereal style.[5]


Cloud rap initially came out of Atlanta, Houston, and Memphis during the late 2000s.[6] The term "cloud rap" is popularly used in reference to lo-fi, hazy rap.[3]

Elements of cloud rap, like lo-fi and dreamy atmospheres, can be heard as early as 2001 with Clouddead's self-titled album. Later in 2006 more building blocks, such as hazy and relaxed sounds, can be found in Viper's second album, Ready...and Willing.[7] 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 ASAP Rocky's debut mixtape, Live. Love. ASAP.[8]


Cloud rap is melodically similar to lo-fi and chillwave but distinguishes itself with distorted, psychedelic samples and the inclusion of trap style drums.[6] 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.[8] 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 in 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.[10]

Artists and producers

With many of the genre's pioneers taking major influences from witch house and chillwave, many artists have producers in common like Clams Casino, 90's Bambino, and SpaceGhostPurrp.[11][12][13] In 2011, Clams Casino assisted ASAP Rocky in producing Live. Love. ASAP, 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.[14][15] Other artists such as Black Kray as apart of a collective called Goth Money records, have been birthed as a result of the movement who have birthed many other influential artists like Playboi Carti. [16]

Swedish artist Yung Lean became an eminent cloud rap artist in 2013 when the video for his single "Ginseng Strip 2002" went viral.[8]

Swedish rapper Bladee rose as one of the most prominent members of the genre with the release of his 2014 mixtape Gluee as a member of the collective Drain Gang along with British-Swedish singer Ecco2k and Thai rapper Thaiboy Digital.

Chicago rapper Chief Keef’s mixtapes Bang 2, Almighty So, Nobody, Nobody 2 and Two Zero One Seven are all seen as highly influential to the genre.

Memphis rapper Chris Travis’s 2012 mixtape Pizza and Codeine is often seen as one of the most influential albums of the genre and was met to high critical acclaim.

See also


  1. ^ a b "The history of cloud rap | Red Bull Music". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  2. ^ says, Chris Ellenwood (April 10, 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 "The FACT Dictionary: How dubstep, juke and cloud rap got their names". FACT Magazine. July 10, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Collect This Rare Clams Casino and Lil B Interview About the New Clams Casino Album '32 Levels'". June 3, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Wikström, Peter; van Ooijen, Erik (2018). Post-authentic digitalism in cloud rap. Popular Music Discourses: Authenticity and Mediatization. Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "What happened to the hip-hop micro-genre cloud rap?". Red Bull. April 5, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2023.
  7. ^ Sunbleach (January 2017). "Chamber 38 releases "You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack" by Viper – Sunbleach ☀". Retrieved October 7, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "Cloud Rap: The Spacey, Cyber-Born Hip-Hop Subgenre". Highsnobiety. June 25, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e "A$AP Rocky: Cloud Rap and Live at the Melkweg". Culturedarm. May 29, 2013. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Musicpublished, Future (March 2, 2022). "The beginner's guide to: cloud rap". MusicRadar. Retrieved November 17, 2023.
  11. ^ "Cloud Rap - Music genre - RYM/Sonemic". Rate Your Music.
  12. ^ Green, Dylan (May 6, 2020). "Clams Casino Interview: Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, "Cloud Rap"". DJBooth. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "Sickboyrari".
  14. ^ Lester, Paul (October 12, 2011). "New band of the day – No 1,125: ASAP Rocky". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Live.Love.A$AP - A$AP Rocky | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved October 29, 2020
  16. ^ Patella, Quinn. "Cloud Rap: Maybe One Day We'll See It Again". Paw Prints. Retrieved May 7, 2024.