The Repetitive New Wave of “Phonk”
In the underground rap scene, one type of sound you will hear is called “phonk”. Phonk is a term coined by Raider Klan and BMB founder, SpaceGhostPurrp, back in 2010 or 2011 and has since been referred to as a certain style of rap. Phonk music is the 90’s Memphis underground revival sound. To be real, Evil Pimp and his group Krucifix Klan been trying to revive that old sound, but I think Raider Klan got more notoriety from it because they could relate to the youth more. Raider Klan was inspired by trap music just as much as 90’s Memphis rap. After all, SpaceGhostPurrp did say in an interview Raider Klan was originally a trap group called Wavy Money.
Since SpaceGhostPurrp came in the rap game, that’s when you saw more rappers paying homage to Memphis. He definitely changed the game because during 2010–2011, there was a lot of corny music being made in hip hop and it was about time someone gave hip hop a dark vibe again. Phonk was so good in its earlier stages that even Three 6 Mafia saw what was going on and decided to reform because of it. Groups like Doomshop and S.I.C. have a made a big impact too. They have performed with legends like Mr. Tinimaine and Tommy Wright III earlier this year.
Phonk is important in my opinion because these artists are paying homage to rappers and producers who have influenced modern rap such as DJ Zirk, DJ Squeeky, Tommy Wright III, Three 6 Mafia, and many more. Just like any other style of music, it can get boring at times, but it’s a bit worse in this case. This may sound weird, but phonk has become repetitive like trap music. These upcoming phonk artists are very stale from what I have heard so far.
The samples they have use have been overuses like Koopsta Knicca’s Purple Thang or the “Nine To Yo Dome” joint. In order for music to evolve, you have to try different things. Use different samples and when you use them, please know what you’re sampling. Don’t be the YouTube prowler. It’s OK if you don’t know everything.
Like trap artists, I have noticed them putting production over lyrics when in fact, both things are important. A lot of the upcoming artists can be straight up Memphis clones. It bothers me to hear a rapper sound exactly like Project Pat or Lord Infamous. Know the difference between being inspired and straight up biting.
Besides the musical aspect, they try too hard especially when it comes to how they sell their music. They claim to be so underground for having their music on cassettes knowing damn well they never listened to them or owned one. Most of these people are young. I bet they never grew up listening to physical music. Doomshop and S.I.C. are literally the only groups I know that are legit about cassettes. Some of the members in those groups own cassettes from the rappers they are inspired by and according to S.I.C. member, StoneDogg, he has been making music on cassettes since he was 10 years old.
One more thing about the music though — if the equipment you own can make your production sound good, please choose to do so. You make no sense when you make all of your music lo-fi on purpose. I can understand this for certain song concepts, but doing it for all your projects is nonsense. Making all of your music lo-fi is only tolerable when your equipment can’t make your music have good production.
Upcoming phonk artists need to learn how to be themselves. No one cares about you trying to be edgy on social media. Shut up and make quality music. If these guys don’t learn soon, this style will die off.