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Kingsley Voice


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Drain Gang: An Outsider’s Perspective on Hip-Hop


Hip-hop has grown to become a vast and diverse music genre. As its cultural influence continues to grow, it allows for more artists to push its boundaries. However, in its current state, hip-hop is mainly catered to a Western audience. It is difficult for artists from other regions to establish core fanbases in countries other than their own. However, it is not impossible.

Drain Gang (DG) is a music collective based in Stockholm, Sweden. It was formed in 2013 by artists Bladee, Thaiboy Digital, Ecco2k, and producer Whitearmor. Drain Gang also worked closely with Yung Lean, an up-and-coming artist at the time with a similar sound. Though much of the music put out by DG members is difficult to categorize genre-wise, it is very similar to cloud rap, while also borrowing some elements from trap and alternative R&B.

Cloud rap is a subgenre of hip-hop that had a huge influence on the underground and internet culture in the early to mid-2010s. It is currently having a major revival with the emergence of new artists taking influence from the sound, in addition to older music from the subgenre having a resurgence in popularity. Key elements of cloud rap include ethereal and spacey instrumentals drowned in reverb. Melodies are often constructed from electronic keyboard pads and synths as well as sampling from other songs and musical pieces. In contrast to the other harder-hitting and lyrical subgenres in hip-hop, cloud rap places an emphasis on creating complex and atmospheric instrumentals and vocals instead of cohesive lyrics.

Currently, Drain Gang is the only hip-hop collective from Sweden to achieve international success. They have had multiple world tours with huge turnouts in addition to having millions of streams on their records. Bladee’s 2019 Be Nice 2 Me currently sits at 49 million streams on Spotify. Yung Lean’s 2013 Ginseng Strip 2002 peaked at number 47 on the Billboard Global 200 in February 2022 and currently sits at 254 million streams on Spotify. Yung Lean has also worked closely with other huge artists over the years such as Frank Ocean and Travis Scott. He provided background vocals for Frank Ocean’s album Blonde, specifically on the songs Godspeed and Self Control. He also features in Travis Scott’s Parasail on his latest album Utopia.

Drain Gang’s progressive sound contributes to the collective’s popularity today. Their music is very experimental and a lot of their older work still sounds ahead of their time. Their music is genre-bending and can borrow a wide range of sounds from wildly different genres. Their heavy utilization of autotune also contributes to this futuristic sound.

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About the Contributor
Himadri Sarker, Contributor
Himadri Sarker is a writer for the games & tech section of the Kingsley Voice. He can often be found playing Terraria. After a long day, he recommends talking to a friend as a way to de-stress. He can often be found listening to Summrs. He has been a part of the team since 2021.

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