Phonk, often defined as the sound of GenZ, is an amalgamation of memphis rap and the sounds of the West Coast. Phonk music is usually accompanied by dark lyrics and an uncanny aura, a sound that the new generation seems to resonate with. It is created by putting together funky instrumentals with evergreen and nostalgic hip hop.
Directly inspired by 90s rap music, this genre was pioneered by the likes of SpaceGhostPurrp, X Raided, Phonk Beta, DJ Screw and more. SpaceGhostPurpp managed to give a name and face to this genre with his visionary projects like Mysterious Phonk : The Chronicals of SpaceGhostPurrp and Intoxxxicated and Other Projects. The uniqueness of his style also got him to bring it to the mainstream, by producing for Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, the ASAP Mob, and Lil Uzi Vert among others.
He went on to form a whole crew around it, known as Raider Klan with members from Seattle, Memphis and Houston. The southern hip hop and phonk group has had members like Denzel Curry, Chris Travis, IndigoChildRick, Yung Simmie, & many others. Associated acts also included Seshollowaterboyz, Pouya, Metro Zu, Bones and Robb Banks.
Over the years, the phonk scene has undergone an evolution in terms of its sound and its consumption. Phonk saw a massive shift to Soundcloud, moreover inspired the sound of rappers like XXXtentacion, Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd and others.
Producers such as DJ Smokey, DJ Yung Vamp, Soudiere, Roland Jones and many more new-age producers redefined what it’s like to be phonky. They revolutionized the sound by toning down the trap element, inculcating more jazzy sounds, chopping, screwing and of course, sampling iconic hip hop. The genre instantly became very popular across the streaming service, and in statistics revealed by Soundcloud, it can be seen that Phonk is one of the most consumed genres on the platform alongside cloud rap and vaporwave.
We recently got into a conversation with Phonk heavyweight Soudiere, who has consistently released timeless music and collaborated with most of all top artists in his stream. Speaking of the genre and how he got into it, he said “I got into it when discovering southern rap around 2013, DJ Screw, Three Six Mafia, then a little bit later I landed on a DJ Smokey mixtape on YouTube, as well as Raider Klan and Lil Ugly Mane. I wasn’t even making music back then, but then I got on SoundCloud, just for listening purposes, then found out about the whole scene and got really inspired to start trying to produce myself. I downloaded FL Studio in late 2014, early 2015, and it kind of became an obsession really fast. I was really inspired by producers like Dj Smokey, Drae Da Skimask, Swisherboys as well as the texas/memphis sound so it felt natural to make music in that direction.”
He also formed a collective with fellow Phonk producers Aseri, Backwhen, Mythic, DJ Yung Vamp among others called “Purple Posse”. Speaking of which, he said “met them and most of us were just starting at the time, but we all shared the same influences and vision, so we decided to start Purple Posse. Now it’s been 4 years, the niche keeps getting bigger and the sound keeps evolving.”
DJ Yung Vamp is one of the most influential phonk producers to date. He has consistently belted out memorable hits, one after the other.
Vamp along with his peers really changed the course of Phonk music and has inspired many upcoming producers around the world. Our top picks from him include “1-2 Step Missy Elliot & Ciara”, “I GOT MOLLY I GOT WHITE”, “Blessings” and “I AM JUST A HOLOGRAM”. His production for charismatic rapper Bbno$ on the song “Hyrule Temple” is top class too.
Knowing that he is very consistent in dropping great music, we can assume that will be dropping a new track real soon.
During earlier years, Phonk was used to describe a very gritty, dark, memphis oriented sound. From there on, with the help of DJ Yung Vamp, Soudiere & more, it has evolved to something more universal. A lot of young and upcoming producers are taking up on this genre, ensuring that this genre lives on and evolves further. We’re excited to experience what the Phonk future holds.
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