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New hip-hop subgenres coming up

 A portable black radio [iStockphoto]

Hip-hop continues to diversify into new subgenres that push the boundaries of rhythm, poetry and self-expression. With hip-hop celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, we look at some of the newest subgenres.

Most of these subgenres are driven by young artistes and have received both praise and criticism. 

Some of the most vibrant subgenres currently include; trap music, drill, mumble rap, SoundCloud rap, and emo rap.

Whether you’re a lifelong hip-hop head or a newcomer to the genre, familiarizing yourself with these styles will ensure you’re up to date with hip-hop’s continuing transformation.

Trap Music

Trap music has become the hottest hip-hop subgenre, gaining widespread popularity. It is characterised by ominous, cinematic beats, aggressive lyrics and an overall gritty sound.

The term ‘trap’ refers to places where drugs are sold and distributed. Trap artistes rap about life in the trap and the struggles that come with it.

Trap music often has a darker, more sinister vibe than typical hip-hop. The lyrics frequently reference drug dealing, violence, and a dangerous lifestyle.

However, some new trap artistes have moved towards more positive themes of success, wealth, and overcoming adversity.

Mumble Rap

This is a controversial subgenre is characterised by hard-to-understand lyrics and bass-heavy beats.

Though mumble rap has been criticised for its often repetitive lyrics and promotion of drug culture, its proponents argue that it has a place in hip-hop and popular music.

Its lyrics are difficult to understand due to the rapper’s mumbling or slurred delivery, with many arguing that it promotes unhealthy behaviour and lacks artistic merit.

However, its proponents counter that it reflects the cultural attitudes of today’s youth and has a place within hip-hop as an innovative new sound.

Emo Rap

Emo rap, short for emotional rap, is characterised by lyrics focused on personal struggles and mental health.

Emo rap has become increasingly popular, as rappers open up about anxieties, depression, suicidal thoughts, and heartbreak.

Often characterised by moody beats and melodic hooks, the lyrics tend to be personal, focusing on anxieties, loneliness, heartbreak and inner torment.

The genre is a fusion of hip-hop, R&B, pop, and alternative rock.


Drill is comparable to gangsta rap and trap music. This particular genre has drawn attention for its violent, explicit style of delivery and it links to vices in society.

Drill lyrics depict street life and are grim, brutal and realistic. Despite having many similarities to trap music, drill beats are often slower and have a moderate tempo.

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