By Will Li (’23) | March 1, 2021
The rap scene has certainly changed over the past few years with the rise and fall of “Lil” rappers, the surge of emo rap, and the creation of a “TikTok rap” genre. While newer artists like DaBaby and Jack Harlow have added variety to the rap scene, large labels such as Epic and Warner Records still exert significant influence over today’s music. In 2017, many of the top artists, such as 21 Savage and Drake, continue to dominate the industry today. These artists are certainly talented, but their labels’ efforts to keep them on top hinder the growth of younger, novice artists, like Lil Mosey and Blueface, who do not have as much money and influence. Nevertheless, there are still many talented, underground rappers producing amazing sounds. Three of them certainly deserve the spotlight: Trevor Daniel, Lxst, and Guwop Reign.
Trevor Daniel emerged on TikTok in 2019 with his hit, “Falling,” and broke the charts in 2020 with “Past Life,” featuring Selena Gomez. He has released a multitude of other songs revolving around his breakups and characterized by sorrowful and reminiscent instrumentals which focus on emotional chords in a style of “heartbreak rap.” For instance, on “Nicotine,” a song comparing the addictiveness of Trevor’s girlfriend with that of nicotine, the instrumental’s bass comes from a guitar instead of being computer generated to create authentic chords of despair. Additionally, Trevor displays amazing versatility through his trap-style releases. On “Lovesick,” he sings about his commitment to his girlfriend on top of a trap-like instrumental of beat drops, a complex drum line, and high notes, resembling a person crying for help and symbolizing Trevor’s emotional anguish from breaking up. Trevor also displays versatility with his wide vocal range, as shown with his falsetto-like high pitch and his lower, more normal pitch in “For You”, a song about his obsession with his girlfriend. With his emotion-filled projects, Trevor Daniel appeals to a wide variety of audiences.
Another rapper on the rise is Lxst (pronounced “lust”), a melodic rapper who draws inspiration from emo rappers like Juice WRLD. He certainly pays tribute to Juice WRLD in his music, such as the line “No Juice WRLD, lucid in my mind sometimes” in his song “Sun Kissed.” This release features a calm flow and delivery, and is about Lxst’s party lifestyle. In “Upset,” a song about relationship hardships, Lxst continues displaying his calm flow, but over a more complex instrumental; while the instrumentals of “Sun Kissed” and “Exhausted” are centered around one basic chord of comfort and positivity, the instrumental of “Upset” includes both hopeful and regretful chords. Lxst’s versatility in production shows that he has great prospects in rap.Finally, Guwop Reign is an up-and-coming sixteen-year-old from Atlanta whose trap-style projects feature uncensored commentary on his aspirations and his struggles. His deep, melodic vocals resemble a cross between rappers Travis Scott and DaBaby. Already verified on Spotify and Soundcloud, he has collaborated with Lil Tecca, in the song “True to the Game,” a catchy song about the two rappers’ experiences on their journey to fame based upon heavy, bass-boosted instrumentals. Guwop’s newest song, “Shiesty,” features lyrics about his wealth and his experiences with gang violence, delivered by a strong voice over a fast-paced trap instrumental. His older releases describe his experiences with drugs and depression, as well as his goals of fame and wealth. In his song “Dirty Money Hustle,” he raps about his friends whom he lost to drugs as well as his depression from a recent breakup, over a vibrant electric guitar instrumental centered around deep, bass-heavy chords. Another song of his, “Mulan 2,” is about buying Chanel for his mother and girlfriend, whom he raps about in a song called “Mulan.” “Mulan 2” has an intricate beat composed of speaker-rocking beat drops, multiple chord layers, and a powerful computer-generated bass line. With these songs and other upbeat releases such as “No Love” and “Switching Sides,” Guwop Reign has great potential and certainly deserves the hype.