When you think about black fingernails, skinny jeans, and platform boots, the image of Marilyn Manson fans and Hot Topic comes to mind- but, if you have been paying attention to the underground cloud rap scene, then the likes of Lil Peep, Lil Tracy, and Black Kray or maybe even weirdclvn crossed your mind. Coming from the leaned-out realm of hi-hats layered over distorted samples ranging from Bleach to Linkin Park, the goth rap aesthetic has been adopted by different artists in different forms and is as much of a form of expression for these artists as is their music.
Hip-hop has been a stage for new trends and styles to emerge from and flourish since its inception, from the flashy Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five to A$AP Mob shaking the rap game up with the biggest merger of music and fashion ever that is still impacting the fashion choices of artists today.
In terms of popularity, the goth rapper style is still in its building stages, especially on the more extreme side of the spectrum, but is also a pretty diverse style; Lil Peep's (@LILPEEP) assorted tattoos and punk-inspired hair color is a relatively common motif among the cloud rap community, with Lil Tracy (@LILTRACY), Ghostmane (@GHOSTEMANE), and the countless new age emos adopting this somewhat tame style consisting of skinny jeans, hoodies or graphic tees from Ghostsupply, Aintnobodycool, or other independent clothing labels, and the classic vintage metal band tee. Skinny jeans along with bondage pants make the pronounced gothboi outfit along with beat-up vans or combat boots, and the occasional creeper sneaker or boot reminiscent of Rick Owens-esque street goth trends popularized by A$AP Rocky in 2012.
Rappers in the cloud rap scene are enjoying playing with new styles, like Bones (@TeamSESH), who adopted a goth aesthetic but has made it completely his own, adding a sense of eeriness to his music videos just with his fashion choices. With his recent release of his sesh creep sneaker selling out, he is definitely establishing himself in the fashion world. With upcoming artists like Bones taking their place in fashion, the goth-rap style is likely to grow into more facets of pop culture in the near future and bring with it new trends and possibilities for more styles in the future.
Even though the goth-rap style is gaining some popularity in its more common forms, the exciting thing about it is the way the fashion looks on the progressive and truly different side of the spectrum. Now I know there are many different styles in the rap game and adding another one might not do much to the overall influence of fashion- but there are certain things one sees and cannot help but do a double-take, creating an awe of something you very quite rarely see and showing potential of something that can have a greater impact in its world.
One may think of Young Thug donning an Alessandro Trincone designed dress for his JEFFERY mixtape cover, or Kanye West rocking a Givenchy leather kilt which to the rest of the rap world may look like a dress or a skirt, threatening the over-masculinity of the stereotypical rap persona and reassuring the kids that it’s alright to be different in a world that isn’t so welcoming.
A couple of months ago, I came across a rapper named Eric North (@ERICNXRTH), who definitely has a different sound and in terms of style is pretty out there, considering most of his shots are from the chest up. In his video for "DROWNIN'" on the collective weirdclvn's youtube channel, Eric North is seen wearing black lipstick and a black stripe on his right cheek along with an iced-out set of claws on his right hand, and on his track "Eraser" he closes with the line: "Fuck the gunplay, niggas wearing chokers but we don’t play, soon me and my niggas walkin' heels down the runway."
As soon as I saw Eric North belonged to a collective by the name of weirdclvn, I noticed someone by the name of Syringe (@0syringe) in the videos related tab, and clicked to discover a music video entitled "NOT THE SAME," along with a pretty nice track that included shots of Syringe wearing high heels and an all-black outfit with black fingernails, creating a unique androgyny in a rap artist that is very hard to come by (considering the style of music he makes), but not too far-fetched from the subject matter; dealing with teenage angst and feelings of being different from others, with an understandable resentment for the countless others who judge or look down on someone for their appearance or simply for the way they are. In other videos, Syringe can be seen wearing dog collars or putting his hair in puffs- always pushing the boundaries of what’s considered "normal" in the rap game.
I later came across another weirdclvn member named $hy (@ShyInTheFall) with a song entitled "GIRL CLOTHES." I would implore you to listen to this song while you think about the countless people who feel the need to express themselves in certain ways that others may not agree with, and the courage it takes to make a statement. Even though you may not think that goth-rap style is particularly aesthetically pleasing, you do have to respect these artists for their willingness to be different in a music genre and fashion circle who only seem to like "different" when it is fashionable, and deem something too "gay" or "unmanly" unless it directly influences the cycle of trends, moneymaking, and popularity they depend on. When it's all said and done, I find it refreshing to hear a new sound and new styles coming from these upcoming artists embarking on a journey through the ever-changing landscape of rap, and potentially inspiring others to do the same thing. ✉
article by: javier mencia
visual: lil peep and lil tracy, shot by metro blu