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Cambridge Rappers: A New Type of Local Art

Kmerc+and+Lally%2C+both+graduates+of+CRLS%2C+upload+their+own+music+on+SoundCloud.
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Cambridge Rappers: A New Type of Local Art

Kmerc and Lally, both graduates of CRLS, upload their own music on SoundCloud.

Kmerc and Lally, both graduates of CRLS, upload their own music on SoundCloud.

Photo Courtesy of: Prince Dinero Proudctions

Kmerc and Lally, both graduates of CRLS, upload their own music on SoundCloud.

Photo Courtesy of: Prince Dinero Proudctions

Photo Courtesy of: Prince Dinero Proudctions

Kmerc and Lally, both graduates of CRLS, upload their own music on SoundCloud.

Martino Boni Beadle, Contributing Writer

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Throughout the year, the Visual and Performing Arts Department gets a lot of attention at CRLS for its on-stage productions. Between the Black Box Theatre, the band and chorus rooms, the auditorium, and the dance studio, it seems like there is always a performance or production right around the corner.

But, for some CRLS students, the basement of the Arts Building isn’t the only center of art at Rindge. For CRLS alum Kyle Mercado ’18, SoundCloud provides an outlet not only for his creativity, but for his artistic individuality. “I started making music because I felt like I needed a way to give people a better understanding of who KMerc is,” he says, referring to his name on the audio distribution platform. In the past few years, “SoundCloud rap” has quickly emerged as a vital subgenre of hip-hop characterized by artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, and Young Thug.

Nationwide, this genre has discovered some of the biggest current names in hip-hop. Independent artists are able to upload their music to SoundCloud for consumption by the general public without being signed to a record label. This has made the platform especially key for young artists in high school still developing their craft and waiting to be noticed. Juice Wrld (famous for “Lucid Dreams”), 19, and Smooky MarGielaa (associated with the A$AP MOB), 17, are two rappers that have blown up in popularity in the past year, and they both began their careers making beats and recording lyrics on just their phones.

“Everyone has their own personal sound and I think people are really supportive of one another.””

— Anthony Grassi

While CRLS is no exception to the national shift towards SoundCloud rap, there is something unique about the independent music community in Cambridge. “Everyone has their own personal sound and I think people are really supportive of one another. People in Cambridge love to hear each other’s sounds and genuinely want to see each other succeed,” says senior Anthony Grassi.

There is a tightly-knit culture supported not only by local producers and rappers working together, but by friends and fans sharing music on SoundCloud and social media. In this sense, Cambridge is a microcosm of what the SoundCloud rap community seeks to be. There is an appreciation for good music and an enthusiasm surrounding the idea that, at any minute, someone you know—and maybe even grew up with—could make it big.

Another CRLS alum, Bilal Eddaif ’18 (who goes by “Lally” on SoundCloud) says, “I started making music when I was younger as more of a culture type of thing. Then me and my friend picked up on the hobby and started taking it serious.” This is usually how the process begins; with more experience and better production, artists begin to release better music which spreads by word-of-mouth until it’s heard outside of just the Cambridge rap scene. Eddaif and Mercado, two artists that work together frequently, have uploaded songs with up to 40,000 plays on SoundCloud and have recently begun performing live shows at venues like the Lily Pad and the Middle East.

Fundamentally, this new wave of hip-hop has provided the tools and the community through which local artists can envision and achieve their goals. Mercado, who released an EP earlier this year entitled 57 Columbia, says, “My goal for the future is to sign a record deal before the age of twenty and get my mom dukes a big a** crib.”

This piece also appears in our September 2018 print edition.

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The Student Newspaper of Cambridge Rindge and Latin
Cambridge Rappers: A New Type of Local Art