Why aren’t you viral? Don’t you want a Been Trill scarf? Aren’t you trying to fast track your writing career without shelling out for an MFA? Luckily, dear writer, you can gamble self-respect against click-through rates. In the age of the cyber composer, any rapper with a gimmick, a lack of dignity and a laptop can induce headaches and hypnotic devotion. And you can be a part of this. Use the perpetual motion machine of rap blog hypetrains to your advantage by following the simple steps below.
Step One: Discovery
Before spreading audio self-flagellation to the masses, you’ll need to uncover your very own Yung Lean, rhyming pot-plant, or other such rising star. (Find someone with a weird or mildly offensive niche for maximum #exposure.) Misplaced nostalgia, obscure internet fandom, and easily replicated micro-trends tend to be safe bets: The first rapper to successfully incorporate Tuvan throat singing may create a tinnitus outbreak, but could also feature on a 2015 single of the week listicle.
Anyway, to unveil the next Lil Debbie, don’t start with Soundcloud or YouTube. Image is everything. Since you didn’t live through the Korean War, you better skip Google Images, too—go straight for Tumblr. Search for pictures of rappers in velvet shawls, rappers with wild (preferably #rare) animals. Value the $–the symbol itself, not the currency.
The artist (their favorite artist must be Basquiat, by the way) may have invented his or her own genre, which often will be a combination of an existing category with a random addition. Previous examples include Cloud rap, Witch house and Chill wave. You can make up your own using the same formula too: Tinder-trap, Brony house, Bro Bass.
You should also start reading those unsolicited emails from music PR and amateur promo street teams. Look for words used to describe the basement artist like “otherworldly,” “dynamic” or “genre-breaking.” Anything which sounds vague, mysterious or potentially unlistenable should be a good sign you’re on the right track. Also keep an eye out for randomly generated names – “Lil Tulip,” “Yung Eye-Drops,” “Mr Knitted Sweatshirt,” you get the point.
Step Two: Talent evaluation
Skip this part.
Step Three: Promotion
After finding someone who will prove Seapunk isn’t dead, it’s time to promote this vapid tunesmith on cyberspace. Vomit out a think-piece or slide show and explain in careful detail how you’ve always known the artist would revolutionise music. Insert yourself in the story with plenty of unnecessary anecdotes (maybe pictures!) so the audience really gets the connection, you know? You could detail how the two of you communicate with knowing smiles or revisit the time you accidently posted the same Echo The Dolphin meme on Instagram.
Later in the piece, highlight how futuristic their sound is and imply that only intelligent people with a wealth of life experience will enjoy it. Refer to the laptop artist and their three weed-carriers as a “movement,” then finish by proclaiming your chosen hero is “really developing as a musician” or “exploring their emotions.” Below are some bonus click-bait headlines for your perusal.
Step Four: Continued hype
In the event your parasitic host creates a mediocre or almost-good song, this is the perfect time to follow up with a feature about how you knew them first and they’ve actually been grinding in their bedroom for hours. Also worth considering is a two-part documentary about how they started out in their mother’s house, despite the fact that every human person started out in their mother’s house. (Also, call her.)
You’ll need to attend some of their live gigs as a show of support, too. These will likely have a young audience (the other talent show contestants, probably) with a few creepy older tastemakers, social media influencers and Z Grade celebrities pretending to “get it.” Perhaps there will be a prestigious product giveaway and members of the audience trying to copy iconic parts of the performer’s outfit. If he’s wearing a non-breathable plastic turtleneck in a sweltering venue expect to see at least a few look-a-likes. Finally, when the show is labelled performance art, has sound difficulties and contains either rambling or intelligible screaming this is yet another confirmation you’ve found the right person to promote. Here is a perfect example.
If Caverns!!! doesn’t actually release music worthy of praise, continue to proclaim their greatness and ignore this important detail. Make sure you use the relevant hashtags and Ebonics that you would never dare to utter in real life. They too should Tweet regularly with outlandish and barely understandable prose.
Step Five: Capitalise on your success
Congratulations! Now the pseudo-artist has reached their nerd-fan or Tween copycat quota, you can bask in the moment. It’s time to enjoy the temporary influx of digital interaction in the form of one-word replies on your Instagram posts and unsolicited Snapchats. Fill your social media channels with praise for them as well as subtle praise for yourself. (Isn’t it the same thing?) Maybe you’ll finally even get that scarf.
Step Six: The End
The brief success of your keyboard composer will come to an inevitable end due to failing to translate offline and people eventually coming to their senses. You can devise a fool proof plan to distance yourself before the impending irrelevance: Tell people you weren’t really messing with the production on their latest project, purposely misconstrue one of their lyrics as offensive or start sneak dissing them on Vine. The internet hype-cycle is like an emoji obsessed Buddha – always reinventing itself and easily susceptible to the latest trends. Now you’ve reached the end of your first internet musician lifespan, return to step one and discover a new micro-trend you can engage a parasitic relationship with.