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Seven of hip-hop’s heartbreak kids

Sombre, melancholic, and the movement of the future

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Weekly updates

Hip-hop once was, and in ways still is, one of the most masochistic genres around. A lot of the artists on the forefront glorify misogyny and braggadocio in ways that diminish any sense of vulnerability. There have been artists like Drake, Kid Cudi and Kanye West that have broadened the boundaries of emotion throughout rap. Still, the majority have remained focused on the flex as opposed to their feelings.

But with the power of the internet, the floodgates have been opened for the tears of teenagers – all of which want to rap. Kids with a love for My Chemical Romance and a pirated version of FL Studio all saw the power in hip-hop to vent and has lead to one of the saddest eras in hip-hop yet. While older statesman may see this as the ‘death’ of hip-hop, its relatability has seen the popularity of the genre grow larger every day. In appreciation of this movement, we’ve counted down some of our favourite heartbreak kids from this new era.

01. Juice Wrld


Juice Wrld is on track to become one of the biggest artists in mainstream music today, with his song ‘Lucid Dreams’ slated to hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 this week. His music is drenched in the sombre sounds of heartbreak, similar to that of a Lil Uzi Vert. His debut project Goodbye & Good Riddance is filled with lyrics about failing relationships, depression and everything else that would come in the diary of an emotional teenager. It’s catchy, it’s relatable and it’s beautiful.

02. Yung Lean


Yung Lean is a pioneer of this emotional movement in hip-hop. He burst onto the scene in 2011 with his Sad Boys collective, alongside artists like Bladee and Ecco2k. Their music was a unique blend of cloud rap and dreary, druggy melodies designed to pull on your heartstrings. Initially, it seemed like a meme, with Arizona Tea and Bucket Hats diluting every URL space. But it made sadness something teenagers can be open with. Lean has continued to mature throughout his craft, with the music becoming confronting, accepting, and transparent.

03. Princess Nokia


Princess Nokia is a rapper of many sounds. Her 1992 Deluxe album from last year is unapologetically grimy, and this year she delved into a world of sadness with her tape A Girl Cried Red. Throughout this project, Nokia croons about love, heartbreak and depression over guitar-laced trap beats, blending the sounds of hip-hop and emo. The way Nokia candidly speaks about her struggles throughout the project makes her resonate with audiences beyond rap.

04. Trippie Redd


Trippie Redd’s voice is filled with anguish. He often tests his vocal chords to the absolute maximum, straining himself to create melodies like no one else. Songs like ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘Luv Scars’ finds him contemplating a toxic relationship, imitating the ‘bellow at the top of your lungs’ feelings of emo music. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Trippie Redd is one of the biggest splashes in this new pool of sad rap.

05. Abra


Abra mixes her smooth, soulful voice with triplet flows, making her a standout in the new scene. Her music is lo-fi and dreary, with vocals commanding melancholia into banger territory. With lyrics that touch on both the best and the worst of modern romance, Abra is a songstress that’ll more than likely get you in your feelings.

06. Lil Peep


Lil Peep was the face at the forefront of emo-revival in the hip-hop. Sampling artists like Mount Eerie, he made music that inspired a generation of young artists to be openly in tune with their emotions. His lyrics often touched on personal struggles and mental health, with a Tom Delonge-like voice amplifying these themes. Although Peep, unfortunately, passed away in 2017, his music is bound to resonate forever.

07. Corbin


Corbin borders more on the R&B scale, but his mixture of sombre, apocalyptic themes and 808s put him alongside artists like Yung Lean. He went viral in 2014 with the video for his song ‘Without You’, in which he wore a turtleneck and du-rag in the forest. Much like the Sad Boys, he was initially seen as a meme. But his music slowly became the soundtrack to an era of teenage breakups. His 2017 album Mourn found him at his gloomiest yet, with production from Shlohmo and lyrics that foreshadow the end of the world. With a unique, lugubrious sound and a nihilistic approach to despair, Corbin might be the saddest of them all.