Meme rap, or joke rap, has always been a kind of parody of conventional rap. You hear it and you can tell it’s rap, but something is always off. Sometimes there are strange beats or sounds, sometimes the lyrics are completely contrary to what you would expect from the genre, or sometimes the artist just throws in punch line after punch line. Whatever the case may be, it’s purpose is to make people laugh.
However, now meme rap has become just as bizarre as typical internet memes have. Just like how most memes—such as deep fried memes—capitalize on ridiculousness, joke rap too has begun to utilize shock value to get laughs.
Rapper DBangz, whose SoundCloud bio reads “I live for anime bitches, 2D hoes only,” is a prime example of this new direction. His EP Summer Booty Sweat’s first song begins with the lyrics, “It’s the intro. It’s the intro to the song. The intro to the song where we introduce the song.” Then, he immediately goes into singing about anime girls, sucking on toes, and ass–eating. He uses these themes in practically every track.
The new meme rappers all seem to have themes—each one equally absurd—that they utilize in their music. This consistency, so loved with typical internet memes, is what is helping these rappers to grow loyal fan bases.
If you look at the comments on any of meme rapper Yung Gravy’s music or social media platforms, they all call back to his themes: the Gravy Train (his fan base), flexing, MILFs (or any type of professional woman, such as a chiropractor), and Thanksgiving food. On his last Instagram photo, nearly every other comment said "FLEX” in all caps, as if all of the commenters were in on some joke.
That’s how these rappers are growing so quickly. Their songs are like big inside jokes. Now, artists are exploiting this trend to gain huge followings in practically no time by creating “inside jokes” that anyone could be in on just by looking at the artist name. Lil Windex, after about half a year, is already “cleaning up the rap game” with over 100,000 listeners on Spotify and nearly 10 million views on YouTube. That’s because, as his name suggests, his songs all play with the idea of cleaning.
The best part about these new meme rap songs is that, even though they are just as ridiculous as classic internet memes, they all have great production quality. These artists take pride in their songs, so they are pleasant to listen to (taste in music permitting). They move above the quality of YouTube parodies and meme videos, creating a wonderful marriage between internet humor and professional music.
I, for one, hope this trend is here to stay, as long as the originality among these artists remains. Just like with picture memes, variation of the same theme is funny until repeated a thousand times. I can deal with four separate Sound Cloud songs titled “Thot Exterminator,” but a thousand, I don’t think I could handle.