What Is Phonk? Check Out Music's Fastest Growing Subgenre

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@yungvamp13 @soudiere777 @kirbymane666 / IG

As described by its dedicated Reddit page, Phonk is "an underground style of hip-hop/trap music directly inspired by 90s Memphis rap." The hip-hop subgenre has traditionally called SoundCloud its home, and has been driven forward by pioneers like DJ Yung Vamp, Soudiere, and DJ Smokey.

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Phonk is the fastest growing playlist on Spotify, garnering over 2.3 million followers in the past year. Over the course of last month alone, it's grown by 30%. However, the subgenre's construction took place years ago, and is still evolving today.

Before we dive into Phonk, let's take a look at 90's Memphis rap, the foundation of it all. Three 6 Mafia led the charge back then, as well as the solo careers of its members, like Juicy J, DJ Paul, and Project Pat. If you were to pay close attention, you'd notice that 90's Houston rap also impacted Phonk heavily, mainly DJ Screw.

Additionally, Phonk probably wouldn't exist had it not been for SoundCloud; this is where artists like DJ Yung Vamp, Soudiere, and DJ Smokey built the uncanny style of music brick by brick. Laden with classic samples and FX, this type of music is a walk down memory lane. DJ Yung Vamp is the perfect example of this notion. If you were to browse his two drum kits, you'd find they're an absolute goldmine for this precise type of nostalgia. Better yet, you can hear it on full display via his SoundCloud, the place he built his dedicated audience using flips of famous acapellas and tasteful Simpsons graphics as cover art.

Not only do the aforementioned pioneers drop singles and projects of remixes and original music, they also make mixes of this music, which grabs listeners' attention spans more than most content nowadays.

Before TikTok took the subgenre to another level, DJs and curators like Ryan Celsius utilized existing social media platforms to put the style of music on a higher level.

In the time since, TikTok made it go mainstream. The hashtag #phonk has 5.4 billion views. Greatest part about it is the creative nature of the subgenre; something tells us it won't be getting old anytime soon. It's infused with classic elements as well as utilizations of modern musical technology. From its 90's roots and mid 2010's development, Phonk has come a long way, however its journey is just starting.

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