Emo rap sounds like a blend of Soulja Boy and Taking Back Sunday, and that auditory fusion has resulted in a burgeoning rap subgenre that is dominating the charts and proving it’s more than just a niche for people who like to cry in the club.
The style—which merges the melodies and guitars of emo music with trap production and rap tropes—has already had some huge successes: Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3” and Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams” both landed in the top ten of the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 in 2018, with “Lucid Dreams” peaking at an impressive No. 2. But it’s also had its share of trials: The death of Lil Peep in late 2017 meant the loss of one of emo rap’s greatest talents and most promising superstars.
But after a banner year in 2018 (with Spotify confirming that emo rap was the year’s fastest growing genre), this year looks to be the biggest yet for a style of music that perfectly targets young adults who grew up on early 2000s pop-punk and emo music and who now listen to rap tracks that regularly top the charts. And with the unprecedented rise of artists like Juice WRLD, there’s no reason to believe the sound won’t become even more mainstream in the second half of 2019 and well into 2020.
Below, we’ve collected the emo artists to look out for in 2019, from bona fide superstars like Lil Uzi Vert to up-and-coming talent like Zubin, dubbed “the SoundCloud Weeknd.”