Sad rap has been a staple of the underground for a while now, but it's starting to take over. News that a Bladee and Charli XCX collaboration is on the way is the latest sign that your favourite artists are taking notice of what the Sad Boys and Drain Gang are up to, and it's time to get on board.
It's a male-dominated scene at the moment, especially at the top level, but as these artists become more well-known we're hoping that'll change. There are already some great non-male acts making music in the hyperpop space, and given the links between hyperpop and sad rap, we can definitely see a future where sad girl rap takes off worldwide.
We've taken a look at who's who in Sad Boys and Drain Gang, and why you should be paying attention. They've been staying a couple of steps ahead of the latest rap trends for a while now, but it's looking like people are starting to catch up and take notice.
If there's a name on this list that you recognise, it's likely Yung Lean's. The Swedish rapper has been pushing musical limits ever since he emerged onto the scene with the woozy Ginseng Strip 2002, and he's made a name for himself releasing music that utilises his voice as another instrument, rather than the focal point for many of his songs.
He frequently works with the producers on this list, with the Sad Boys featuring Lean, Yung Gud and Yung Sherman. Lean's released four albums so far, with his latest, 2020's Starz, his most confident release yet. He plays into the surrealism that features in a lot of his lyrics, while also delving more into the emotional catharsis of his previous album Stranger.
As a member of Drain Gang, Bladee has made a name for himself as both a musician and a fashion icon. Speaking to i-D, he describes Drain Gang and Sad Boys as "the new One Direction ‘cause the fans love us, we created our own lane, and now we’re helping the youth create their own identities and love life.” Much like Yung Lean, his music is woozy and psychedelic, evoking the feeling of floating on clouds.
He's released three albums so far, with the latest, 333, coming in 2020. He's currently starring in the New Heaven by Marc Jacobs Lookbook, and with a collab with Charli XCX potentially in the works, you'll be hearing a lot more from Bladee very soon.
Thaiboy Digital's debut album Legendary Member is one of the most celebrated projects of the sad rap scene. He's not afraid to mix up his flow, alternating between melodic bars and straight up spitting.
The album features production from Yung Gud and Whitearmor and showcases the fact that mumble rap has created a way for artists like Thaiboy to thrive. This is true of a lot of the Sad Boys and Drain Gang, as English isn't their primary language. You don't necessarily need to understand everything he's saying - at a deeper, subconscious level, you'll feel what he's saying in your bones.
As a member of Sad Boys, Yung Gud primarily focuses on producing music for those around him. He's served as the executive producer for several of the names on this list, including Yung Lean and Thaiboy Digital. While he hasn't released much music on his own, he's helped shape the sound of those around him.
Outside of his work with Sad Boys and Drain Gang, he's also produced tracks for Halsey and Deniro Farrar, as well as remixing songs by Jacques Greene, Meek Mill and Tinashe. He'd love to work with Drake, PartyNextDoor or FKA twigs in the future, and we can definitely see that happening.
Yung Sherman has been involved with producing for Yung Lean from his very first mixtape, and it's a relationship that's continued ever since.
Back in 2017, he released his debut EP Innocence, combining the sounds of EDM and Southern rap - a step away from the music he makes as part of the Sad Boys crew.
Whitearmor primarily works with Yung Lean and Bladee, often serving as the executive producer on their works. He was the executive producer of Yung Lean's 2020 album Starz, as well as his 2018 mixtape Poison Ivy. He's also a member of Drain Gang.
Before they were part of Drain Gang, Ecco2k and Bladee were part of a hardcore band called Krossad. In many ways, the experimentation in hardcore music lends itself to cloud/sad rap - and if you look at the history of electronic producers, you'll find that a surprising amount have crossed over from hardcore music to production.
Ecco2k's just released his new EP, PXE (pixie), featuring elements from his hardcore past. It's an abrasive listen, but one that showcases where his sound is going next.
If you're looking for some Australian artists that are similar to Lean, Bladee and co., then we've got you covered. Here are a few of our favourite artists that are making music in a similar vein, while also putting their own spin on things.
Much like Ecco2k and Bladee, Melbourne artist daine was inspired by her hardcore roots, crediting the Melbourne hardcore/metal scene for embracing her at a time when she needed it most.
She's already been shouted out by Charli XCX, and her brand of emo pop will appeal to fans of the production that features on Yung Lean's more recent work, as well as the other names on this list.
If you're looking for music to comfort you when you're down, then Sydney producer/vocalist duo DM219 have you covered. The pair pull influence from artists like Lil Peep, Corbin and more (both of which sit adjacent to the Sad Boys/Drain Gang in terms of sound), and they're making music to help you get over lost love, as well as remember those who have left your life.
Sydney-born producer Perto already has some impressive production credits, jumping in the studio alongside the likes of Timbaland, Billie Eilish, Ludacris, Alison Wonderland and more.
His production style is reminiscent of Sad Boys and Drain Gang, with a more EDM edge. It's a good middle ground if you're looking for something that captures the rebellious spirit of Yung Gud and Yung Sherman, while also having a pop flavour to it.
READ MORE: Here Are The Wild Fan Theories Behind Twenty One Pilot's Forthcoming Album 'Scaled And Icy'
Lebanon-born, Sydney-based rapper, singer and producer Chirine really does it all. While in the past she's mostly worked in the R&B space, her latest single You Could Never carries the same emotional weight of songs by Yung Lean, Bladee and co.
It's a track that she produced and mixed, and she also came up with the idea for the music video that accompanies the track. It's a homage to the cultures that helped raise her, and her bars on the track pack a serious punch.
If you're a fan of production that combines rap and rock, then you'll enjoy New Zealand-born, Sydney-based musician Somber Hills. He's just released his new single Don't Need, and it's inspired by both trap artists and pop-punk bands.
Speaking about the track, he says, "I freestyled each section of the song and I think it was something I needed to get out subconsciously. I know being an artist is a selfish role and when I left for Australia I couldn’t be there for the people who needed me." If you're looking to be there for someone, but you're struggling to be present, then you'll relate to Don't Need.