A Guide to Soundcloud’s Demonic Underworld

Jameson Orvis offers an extensive guide to the incoming generation of Soundcloud rappers.
By    January 14, 2021

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Jameson Orvis runs all his interviews through a vocal processor.

The legacy of Memphis hip-hop will never die as long as it continues to mutate into stranger and stranger online forms. With their dark atmospheric raps, Three 6 Mafia and their associates laid the foundation of modern cloud rap back in the 90’s. SpaceGhostPurrp’s Raider Klan resurrected these sounds in a Memphis renaissance, fusing Three 6 Mafia’s hedonistic horrorcore with the internet and bringing it into the 2010’s. 

Raider Klan ended officially in 2015, but its influence did not. Out of the ashes of Raider Klan, SpaceGhostPurrp, along with fellow rapper CHXPO, started the much more unknown successor Black Money Boyz Deathrow (BMB). This was not simply a continuation of Raider Klan’s Memphis revivalism, but an evolution of the sound into something more sinister and twisted. BMB has been an incubator for some of the most interesting underground talent during the late 2010’s, especially producers, including the cult legends Loko Los, Screw Mane Flame, and Krxxk. While BMB may have officially disbanded in early 2020 (although that seems to have been temporary), a new generation of talent has emerged to push the sound forward yet again.

18 year old Axxturel, formerly known as 4jay, is considered a leader of the new vanguard. Axxturel has been producing for quite a minute, with Tay-K even stealing one of his beats off YouTube to make “Gotta Blast” which appeared on #SantanaWorld all the way back in 2017. But it’s not until he started the collective Jewelxxet in 2019 that Axxturel ascended to become the dark prince of SoundCloud. Jewelxxet, originally named Muneygettinridahz, occupies the darkest crevices of the SoundCloud abyss, where light and hope are all but absent and legitimate beefs occur over your willingness to perform demon summoning rituals. It is the natural successor to BMB just as BMB was the successor to Raider Klan, again representing an evolution of the Memphis sound into an even more experimental noisy direction. 

It’s not a coincidence that the rise of Jewelxxet’s luciferian distortion runs parallel with the emergence of the brighter glitchy sounds of “hyperpop” and even the abstract bitcrushed noise of hexD music. It is a mistake to pigeonhole any artist, especially on SoundCloud, into any particular scene or subgenre. SoundCloud is an infinite interconnected web of overlapping subgenres and scenes. Musical ideas diffuse easily between communities. The same musical forces pushing hyperpop and hexD in a noisy direction also birthed Jewelxxet. 

Axxturel’s 2019 tape #XXEXXXYMBOL is a sludgy choppy morass oozing with flecks of nightcore. Much of Axxturel’s older material has a similar feel, like a hellish nightcored take on chopped and screwed music. His recent tape Noktifer’s Symphony might be his most refined project yet. While the mixing has improved and sounds less like a piece of refuse dredged up from the bottom of a sewer, it sounds just as sinister. Track 9 “2 steppn on necks” is so obscenely hard it makes me want to burn down a church. He’s also very prolific, dropping everything from incredibly experimental demented noise tracks to dark ambient compositions for demons to meditate on almost daily.

Sellasouls makes some of the most batshit music in Jewelxxet. He raps in a nearly unintelligible venomous whispery hiss, like he’s trying to summon demons in an apartment with thin walls. DARKBASEDRITUALS oftentimes sounds less like a hip hop project and more like a collection of occult rituals being performed to a beat. Since then, his music has only become even more noisy and abstract. The tape Dyin666iiinM4rxh{{157}}#iwandie is so distorted and chopped half to death to the point that the vocals are reduced to mere eldritch sibilance over deranged noise. The density of Raider Klan glyphs and unicode pentagrams in his song titles adds to the aesthetic, making them sometimes nearly unreadable to the untrained eye.

Islurwhenitalk, aka s1nt6n6, makes surreal musical shitposts with a passing resemblance to hip hop. His project Bl66d Parade, while not quite as insane as the chthonic whisperings of DARKBASEDRITUALS, is nevertheless very unsettling. The moments this project sounds like something approaching normal rap are fleeting, serving only to emphasize how incredibly bizarre the rest of the project is. Atlanta producer Cashcache!, most known for making plug beats for the likes of BoofPaxkMooky and Tony Shhnow, somehow is credited for producing four out of the eight tracks, resulting in some of the most cursed usages of plug beats imaginable. It’s a project caked in so many dark layers of irony that all connection with reality is lost. While Slur’s other projects are typically not quite as off-putting, he always delivers his vocals in an atonal mumble that’s enough to put you at least slightly on edge.

One of my personal favorite artists in Jewelxxet, Zeroxxuit has amassed one of the most consistent discographies in the whole collective. The man has been dropping projects throughout 2020 at a ferocious pace, all of which range from good to great. Some of his music sounds like a relatively sane continuation of BMB’s dark trap sounds, such as the dystopian cyber trap of FUCKED produced by collaborator Scott Free. However, Zeroxxuit is at his best when he’s producing completely unhinged, chopped up, cacophonic soundscapes that push the bounds of hip-hop to their breaking point. His tape BROKEN is a disorienting 30 minute onslaught of demented noise.

Few musical ideas here last long enough for you to get even close to comfortable; Zeroxxuit is content to let you stay lost in the ever shifting labyrinth of noisy hell that is this project. The project peaks with the completely buckwild track “neva try 2 play me!” featuring an incomprehensible array of constantly shifting harsh noise and tempo changes while Lil B’s alien cousin Splish Splash roars over it all. It’s difficult to convey how insane it sounds. Zeroxxuit’s production is versatile enough to complement a wide variety of styles, even producing avant-garde trap metal with Lih Bruja on the fascinating Meditations Under a Funeral Moon.

On a technical level, Herme$ might be one of the best rappers in Jewelxxet. His tape Luna de Sangre 2 is a dense journey through Herme$’s nimble cryptic boasts delivered from within grimy corrupted noise dungeons crafted by BMB producers Sayda and ThaWicketOne, among others. The beat on “Super Android 17” is spaced out and oppressive at the same time; Herme$ sounds like he’s rapping from within a prison cell located deep underground and in outer space simultaneously. While less atmospheric and sonically cohesive than Luna de Sangre 2, his more recent tape Based Money Boyz is another excellent collection of Herme$’s deft flows. 

2shanez has one of the more distinctive voices in Jewelxxet, with an apathetic deadpan delivery so dissonant it can be frightening. His tape No Love is a pure statement of self-hatred and indifference, with 2shanez’s pitched down vocals depressing enough to suck the joy out of any day. His more recent Niko East produced tapes remind me of the Cashcache! produced tracks on Islurwhenitalk’s Bl66d Parade. The production generally consists of lowkey R&B-esque beats, which combined with 2shanez’s atonal moans produces something profoundly cursed, yet undeniably compelling. 

There’s not a ton of music released by Jewelxxet as a whole group yet, but the recent #JXX 2k20 DUNK CONTEST is a decent showcasing of a lot of the group’s talent. One of the BMB OGs also involved with Jewelxxet, Majin Blxxdy’s Krxxk-produced TRXX OF P4IMXN also might as well be a Jewelxxet collaborative tape, with most of the group’s core members making an appearance. 

While Jewelxxet is the most direct heir to BMB’s legacy, it is not the only collective operating in the occult dungeons of SoundCloud. Flexxcult Records, started by Lil Thraxx, is the other main group in this lane, and there’s been some beef between Jewelxxet and Flexxcult. Several current Flexxcult artists used to be in Jewelxxet until a falling out led them to leave for Flexxcult. Among these artists is Rodeoglo, who recently even exchanged diss tracks with Axxturel. According to the 108Mics blog founder Chris (by far one of the most knowledgeable curators in the scene, go drop him a follow @108seraph) on an episode of the Living Off Borrowed Time Podcast, the beef began because current Flexxcult members expressed a reluctance to actually perform the demon summoning rituals they rapped about. 

Rodeoglo’s music sounds like the satanic noise of Jewelxxet viewed through a psychedelic lens. His production generally favors trippy glitched out synthetic pillows of sound over the noisy abrasive chops of Jewelxxet production, with drugged out warbly vocals to match. He’s shown a significant amount of versatility as well, from making the bewildering uptempo cyberpunk noise orgy of “EGO DEATH XX FREESTYLE” to genuinely catchy songs that could plausibly appeal to a mainstream audience like “YOU GON LIE.” His latest album, BLVCKHEVRT, is a remarkably cohesive 30 minute shot of some of Rodeoglo’s finest work to date. Parts of this project even seem to take direct inspiration from the HexD movement, such as the bitcrushed hook on the NXSTA produced “TWEAKER.” 

KRONE tags most of his music on SoundCloud as #HELLSCAPEDRILL, which is a great descriptor for his music. Almost the opposite of Sellasouls’s insidious whispers, KRONE raps in an incredibly abrasive tortured growl on every track. XRK NEBULA is a truly frightening collection of horrific abstract yelling over equally horrific production, and it might be his best tape. The excellent compilation YoRHA SZN 1 {{ORK BOI SHYT}} includes the track “BLACK LAGOON TROOPS” featuring Joni which might be one of my favorite Flexxcult tracks ever. The beat samples a bewildering yet somewhat goofy cacophony of screeching violins taken from the cult classic video game Deadly Premonition’s soundtrack as KRONE just roars “WHAT THE… FUCK” into the mic repeatedly. It sounds so terrifying that it becomes funny, like an overblown caricature of itself.

BBPUTIN, formerly known as Bloodybay, is another one of the more distinctive Flexxcult members. The tape Flexxcult Records hosted on his SoundCloud is a solid compilation featuring a majority of the collective’s core members. BBPUTIN’s most popular song is the monstrously blown out “KILLSWITCH,” where he raps in a Sellasouls-esque whisper flow. But this doesn’t reflect his delivery in the vast majority of his music, defined by an off-kilter froggy croak over Tread beats. BBPUTIN is absurdly prolific as well, dropping full-length tapes on a practically weekly basis, but the excellent charlesglobe-produced SILENT HILL PROPHECY tape would be a good starting point.

Some of the most interesting music in the scene occurs at its fringes, combining aspects of multiple corners of SoundCloud to create something new. To me, ihyreu’s music represents the bridge between the brighter pop sensibilities of the wider hyperpop scene between the abrasive darkness of Jewelxxet and Flexxcult. Ihyreu’s production is bright with undertones of melancholy; generally more gloomy than hyperpop yet happier than Jewelxxet. The track “moon spirit” is quite subdued, with a wavy synth line warmly dancing through the vocals and encasing them in a pillow of pleasant sound, but there’s undeniably a dark undercurrent running through it all. It’s a very unique amalgamation of styles and influences. Ihyreu has collaborated with several Jewelxxet members, but is also a member of the Suzuki Club collective started by hibari-token, which generally occupies the same fascinating musical territory somewhere between Jewelxxet and hyperpop. Lucilfaux & St47ic deserve a shoutout for their vaguely nostalgic “2K13 HOOD EDM” production style which also fits in this Jewelxxet adjacent lane.

The dark satanic music of Jewelxxet and Flexxcult may sound like a far cry from the bright glitchy sounds of hyperpop. But everything on SoundCloud is connected, and the same musical trends giving rise to osquinn and glaive also imbued BMB’s sound with a noisy edge, begetting Jewelxxet and Flexxcult. The music of Jewelxxet and Flexxcult can be thought of as hyperpop’s satan-worshipping cousin, with ihyreu’s music being a familial link. If it feels like there’s an overwhelming number of artists in the scene, that’s because there are. It’s a testament to the sheer depth of talent in the scene that so many great artists didn’t make it into this piece.

Is this scene the future of popular music? Probably not, but it is absolutely the future of the underground, and its influence will inevitably permeate the mainstream someday. It’s easy to imagine a future where Axxturel, and maybe some future stars who have yet to emerge, are widely revered as underground legends, and key successors to the Raider Klan lineage.

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