My mind has just been blown. Apparently there’s a new sub- genre creeping its way into the outskirts of the hip hop community. Some call it Sad Boys, others refer to it simply as Sad Rap. And no, we’re not talking about Drake. This is more like the bastard child of Emo and hip hop, think Cudi’s “Solo Dolo” on steroids.
Historically, there is nothing new about expressing despair in music. Artists have always used their mediums as an outlet for their emotions, and musicians are no different. Heartbreak, mental illness, death and abuse have always been prevalent song themes.
Rap itself has always been sad to some degree. Hip hop began as a way for artists to express themselves and their struggles. Any real rap head knows the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash’s classic “The Message”
“It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”
Tupac had a song called “So Many Tears,” that dealt with heavy topics such as suicide and fallen homies, and Ice Cube was blown away when he finally had a “Good Day.”
These artists tackled real issues with their rhymes. Music was their outlet for dealing with the anguish they felt from lifetimes spent in impoverished and degraded ghettos. For these artists, rap was the only therapy they had available to them. There was no access to Prozac and Zoloft, the only pharmacist in the hood was the dope man. When Tupac so eloquently rhymed about Brenda and her baby, there were no audible tears on the track, the emotion came through from the realness of his message and the distress in his voice.
The Sad Boys movement, however, is on a whole other tip. The term Sad Boys was coined by Swedish rapper Yung Lean. One of his most popular songs; “OreoMilkShake” talks about the usual wack shit; money, drugs and misogyny, instead of conveying real emotion lyrically and poetically, there seems to be more of a focus on promoting a caricature of what is is to be sad.
Another case in point, the lyrics to the song “I Hate Myself,” by Sad Andy;
“I hate my money, I blow it all, I hate my car, I drive it off, I hate myself…everything I do I hate.”
Okay Sad Andy, we understand you hate your car, and your money, but at least you have a car and money. The struggle is real out here for folks with actual issues and problems. Some suburban kid rapping about hating all the material shit that their lucky enough to have, takes away from the core of hip hop and turns it into a lampoon of the genuinely onerous shit that people are dealing with.
Another artist and one of the forerunners of this depression-inducing hip hop campaign is Brooklyn based, Little Pain, from the Broke Boys Crew. His latest song “SMH,” opens up with the sound of someone crying, which is looped several times throughout the song. His lyrics are as follows:
“The too sad crew up in the house
Shed some tears up in ya spouse
Find tears drops all on her blouse
Shedding tears, is what I’m about
Drop tears from north down to the South
Yeah I cry, and I pout
So sad my mama kicked me out
Real tears of a thug, without a doubt”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for men feeling comfortable expressing themselves and partaking in a good cry when need be. But something about this new breed of hip hop has me feeling a bit skeptical. It’s hard to figure out if this is legit or on some troll shit. So, I reached out to Little Pain for some clarity on the subject.
My only question: Is this for real? His response: “For me personally it’s just an outlet to let everything out and express myself in a way that can be therapeutic. Some people judge my music before they even press play. This isn’t some type of joke or some well thought out plan”. For those wondering, Little Pain has a mixtape dropping on December 11th, entitled When Thugz Cry.
Little Pain isn’t the only one repin’ hard for Sad Rap, Sad Andy, Yung Lean, the Broke Boyz crew and a whole mob of other Sad Boys are all trying to infiltrate the system one teardrop at a time.