Founded all the way back in 2007, the audio platform has risen to become a wonderful launchpad for many great musicians. It was grassroots, easily accessible, and cut out the music middle men.
SoundCloud became so widely used that it spawned its own music subgenre, Soundcloud Rap: artists such as JuiceWRLD, Smokepurpp, XXXTentacion, and Lil Pump rose to the mainstream from SoundCloud, bringing their gritty and dark mumbled style of rap with them.
Take a look at five of the biggest and best SoundCloud success stories below! Did we miss out your favourite artist?
For more on this topic, follow the Hip Hop Observer.
You all knew he’d be in this list. Malone posted a little song called ‘White Iverson’ on SoundCloud in early 2015. Nothing would ever be the same for the New York star. It swiftly became a viral sensation, earning over one million plays in just one month. Record labels soon started sniffing around, Malone ultimately signing with Republic Records. It’s been non-stop success for the rapper since: his last two albums, 2018’s Beerbongs & Bentleys and 2019’s Hollywood’s Bleeding, reached the top spot in the U.S. Billboard 200. ‘White Iverson’ by the way, is just shy of joining the One Billion Views YouTube Club.
Love Hip Hop?
Get the latest Hip Hop news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
Kehlani’s music career might have started on America’s Got Talent of all places as a member of the teen pop group PopLyfe but it was SoundCloud that really helped her find her groove. After releasing the solo track ‘ANTISUMMERLUV’ on the platform in 2013, Nick Cannon called her up and bought her studio time in Los Angeles. Subsequent songs such as ‘Down For You’, ‘Jealous’, and ‘You Should Be Here’ all scored millions of streams on SoundCloud too, and one of her tracks, ‘Gangsta’, even managed to be included on the soundtrack for the 2016 blockbuster movie Suicide Squad.
The Norwegian DJ and producer first got attention outside of his native country with a remix of the Ed Sheeran song ‘I See Fire’, garnering 50 million plays on SoundCloud. His own single ‘Firestone’ then received over 80 million views on YouTube and SoundCloud, which prompted Coldplay’s Chris Martin to tap Kygo to remix his band’s song ‘Midnight’. Kygo has been a runaway success on other music platforms too, becoming the fastest artist to reach one billion streams on Spotify in 2015. One year later, he became the first house music producer to perform at the Olympics Closing Ceremony and some people just have it all.
Otherwise known as Jahseh Onfroy, the rapper adopted the XXXTentacion moniker and released his song ‘Vice City’ on SoundCloud. He continued uploading many snippets of songs to the platform, some released and some unreleased. Onfroy was murdered at the age of 20, just as his career was set to really take off from SoundCloud into the hip hop mainstream. He was a problematic and troubled figure, but his impact on SoundCloud Rap’s formative years is undeniable.
Mixing hip hop with punk aesthetics, Nasty is one of the most nonconforming artists around. She gained a cult following with singles such as ‘iCarly’ and ‘Hey Arnold’ blowing up on SoundCloud, leading to her signing with Atlantic Records. Her debut studio album, Nightmare Vacation, dropped last year to wide acclaim, with her seventh mixtape, Rx, slated for release in 2021. A rapper on the up and up.