How the ‘Butterfly Effect’ has taken over rap music


DJ Khaled, Future and Drake;

From promoting new releases to sneak dissing, the role of emojis in 21st Century hip-hop social media culture has taken over conventional advertising and has arguably replaced the old-school method of beefing between artists.

There is no doubt that a strong social media presence and the establishment of a solid fanbase online is the new way for artsists to maintain an image and instute a demographic, however the ease of technology and the digitial footprint that eternally remains has recently landed many artsists in hot water for not only what they have said, but the emojis they used to get their message accross.

Taylor Swift x Kanye West x Kim Kardashian West: 🐍

After the release of Kanye’s 2016 album The Life of Pablo, the lead single Famous landed the previously-controversial rapper in some serious trouble with the lyric “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that b*tch famous”

According to Swift, she never consented to the idea of West using her name in what she labelled as a “mysoginistic way”, and was shocked when she heard the song was released regardless of her approval.

Taylor posted this to social media before swiftly deleting it

After a lot of back and forth statements released by both Taylor and Kanye’s publicists and the artists themselves, West’s wife took matters into her own hands, posting a series of videos on her snapchat which exposed a phone conversation between Taylor and Kanye. The dialogue features West explaining his lyrical concept to Swift, who essentially gives her approval, contradicting her claims that she was unaware of West’s intentions with the song.

This sent social media into a mass frenzy with fans calling out Kim Kardashian for her involvement and Taylor Swift recieving backlash for denying knowledge of her complicity.

This saw the introduction of the snake emoji into the argument, as Kim began using it in various posts which inexplicably addressed the beef between Taylor and Kanye.

Fans took to social media to defend Taylor, flooding the Kardashian’s comments with the snake emoji; so much so, there was an emoji ban in her comment section.

Fast forward to August 22nd 2017, just when the world thought the drama had finally subsided, Taylor released a snippet for her upcoming music video for Look What You Made Me Do (a song that has been descibed as a Kayne diss track) which featured, you guessed it; a snake.

Kim Kardashian x KIMOJI: 🍑

In a surprising turn of events, Kim Kardashian launched her own emoji app, where fans are able to purchase emoji packs and merchandise featuring graphics designed by Kim. Ranging from pool floats to iphone cases, the Keeping up with the Kardashians star hasn't shied away from utilising emoticons to promote her brand and is currently working on new stock ideas for fans. Who knows, maybe we’ll be seeing a snake emoji on her wesbite soon…

Travis Scott x Playboi Carti x A$AP Rocky: 🦋

Following the release of his hit single ‘Magnolia’, rapper Playboi Carti developed a social media following with his use of the butterfly emoji. Tattoed on his chest and featured in many of his music videos and his overall image, the Atlanta rapper has recently called out many artists who have tried to recreate his butterfly aesthetic.

Carti and his butterfly tattoo

With fellow rapper Travis Scott jumping on the butterfly bandwagon with his May single ‘Butterfly Effect’, many fans have begun to point out similarities with the marketing of the two artists.

Sprawled across tour posters and used in almost every social media caption, the butterfly has become somewhat of a symbol for Carti and he recently took to his Snapchat account to air his grievances on other artists who have attempted to imitate his unique image.

However this is not the first time we have heard about butterflies in hip-hop. Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 highly acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly broke chart records and has been labelled by some as one of the greatest rap albums to date. Rapper A$AP Rocky even feautured butterfly symbolism in the music video for his 2016 Put That On My Set collaboration with UK grime rapper Skepta.

A screebshot taken from Carti’s snapchat account

With the increase in social media trends and new ways of reaching and establishing fan bases, founder of Moji Inc. Oliver Camilo says that “In 2016, everyone needs their own emoji. They are a very unique type of digital product in that they are an extremely effective marketing tool to help artists increase exposure and maintain relevance.”

With rap artists such as Future, Dj Khaled, and even Drake promoting this stylised way of marketing, it seems that emojis are here to stay.

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