Thanks to artists like Migos, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Lil Pump, and Lil Skies to name a few, this new generation of southern rappers have put "respek" on the term "SoundCloud rapper." Since its inception, the Berlin-based online audio distribution platform, that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds, has helped jump start the careers of many big names artists, a la Lil Uzi Vert. It now feels like a right of passage to obtain the title of a "SoundCloud rapper."
The next rising star to have his name on this prestigious list is Atlanta rapper, Lil Gnar. He's only been taking music seriously for a few months and already has almost twenty thousand followers on the site, racked up almost a half a million Soundcloud plays on his most recent record "Ride Wit Da Fye" in a couple weeks, and is now slated to perform at this year's Rolling Loud festival.
He's also dropping his latest project Big Bag Gnar Shit as you read this, which you can stream below.
"I've always loved music, extremely, Gnar reveals to us. "All my friends made music, all my homies rapped or are artists. I've been wanting to make music but I was too busy with the brand."
Before his recent music career glow up, the Atlanta rapper got his start in fashion and skateboarding with his own brand GNARCOTIC. Started in 2013, the skate and street culture brand became popular for its signature blended camo-pant that's been worn by some of pop cultures biggest influencers, and has even collaborated with well known skate brands including DGK.
The GNARCOTIC mastermind is the latest and greatest rising rap name coming from Atlanta. To get to know Lil Gnar better, we sat down with the rapper for a Q&A to discuss his skate brand, GNARCOTIC, the term "SoundCloud rapper", and the meaning behind his name. Below you will also find a stream to his album Big Bag Gnar Shit.
What got you into music?
I've always loved music, extremely. All my friends made music, all my homies rapped or are artists, you know? And I've been like wanting to make music but I was too busy with the brand.
I've been doing the brand GNARCOTIC for like three and a half years straight. And up until a few months ago, it was a 100%, everything was all me. Like shipping, packaging, emails, every thing. So I locked into a distribution deal with this distro-center out of Santa Fe Springs in LA. That gave me enough free time to start dropping the music I wanted to drop, and that was like four or five months ago."
When you were doing the label, was the goal always to make music?
Nah, the goal was just really to grow the brand. I really want the brand and the music separate. Kinda like how Pharrell did BBC.
Have you always been into fashion?
Not really into fashion. I always like getting fly. I would even call myself like a fashion dude. I'm more streetwear based, skate based. I appreciate fashion. I watch a lot of Rick Owen's interviews. I like Rick, but I wouldn't call myself like a huge fashion head.
Do you appreciate making your own clothes?
Yeah, I really just like making my own shit. I created the brand really just through skating and just wanted to make shit that I wanted to wear.
Where did the multi-camo pant come from?
So, like two years ago, skaters were rocking camo pants, bringing them back. I was pretty much the same skating in camo pants a lot cause they're kinda baggy. It's durable and baggy, so you have enough room.
So this is in the summer in Atlanta. I was skating in a pair of camo pants and had sweated them the fuck out and had to switch to a different pair, like a different pattern, in my car. And then I was like, dude that would be sick if I could like, combine them. And it kind of came from there. I played around with the idea, drew up some patterns, and started moving forward with samples.
Where did the nickname "Lil Gnar" come from?
From skating. That's where the brand name comes from too! Gnarcotic. Just through skating, kind of a life mantra just through skating. Gnarly is kind of a sick word. It's like beat street. To me it means an addiction to the streets because like skating is the most addicting drug. It's more addictive than drugs to me. Because I've done it, damn near every drug but that shit is whatever you know. But like skating, I've been doing that shit for like eight years. I've torn ligaments, broken bones, you know? And I still go back for more.
Who are some of your favorite skaters growing up?
So many people, like John Cardiel, Collin Provost, Shuriken Shannon, West Kramer has been killing it the last couple of years. Grant Taylor's so ill. I fuck with Baker. I think Baker is really sick. Andrew Reynolds. Death Wish is hard. Death Wish has always been really hard. I think Supreme was actually sick too for a minute when they was really pushing their skate shit. What was that like 2013, 2014?
Like, right around Cherry or before Cherry?
When Bill Strobeck was dropping all those videos. That was so sick to me. That was some of the best skate videos to me just because it kind of encompasses the culture and everything around it and not just the skating.
The convergence between hip hop and skating seems stronger now than ever. Do you think that's for a specific reason? Or it just the generation of kids that are rapping now grew up skating?
I feel like we're the product of the people we look up to. At least career wise for me, it's Pharrell and Tyler [the Creator]. They kinda brought skate culture to the front. If not even pushing it mainly, but they were at least around them all the time. The reason I do everything I do is because Pharrell dropped this Ice Cream Skate Team DVD. That was my first skate video. That shit changed my whole life.
Have you ever been to Japan?
Yeah, I was about to say. I went to Tokyo in like April. So like seven months ago, eight months or some shit. Fire! Amazing! Been wanting to go. I mean, I've been fucking with Japanese culture and everything just through like my love of Anime when I was younger, and always looked up to Pharrell. He kind of brought that to America fucking with Niko so heavy. Yeah, Japan was really sick.
I feel like the term "SoundCloud rapper" has grown to become a popular rap phrase, and being poppin' on SoundCloud actually matters nowadays. Why do you think that is?
When you go in the streets around the kids, they all talk about SoundCloud. That's where people blow up off of. That's where people get their traction, you know. SoundCloud rapper is damn near the best term. I feel like with SoundCloud, they kinda watch your growth more. They feel like they're part of something that's real DIY.
Speaking of SoundCloud, coinciding with this interview, Lil Gnar drops a new 6-track project on the platform called Big Bag Gnar Shit. The project features two of his hit songs including "Ride Wit Da Fye" and the recently released "Codeine Lemonade". Stream the album below.
Also, meet Lil Skies, a 19-year-old Florida rapper, who's touring with Lil Uzi Vert.