Abstract hip hop is a sub-genre of hip hop that eschews many of the genre’s conventions. This style of hip hop has become a fixture of the underground hip hop scene since the early 2000s and is defined by its focus on lyrical content rather than musical style.
Lyrically, artists tend to focus on more abstract ideas such as existentialism or social institutions. They also typically avoid the more upfront, visceral language of typical hip hop and instead prefer extensive metaphors and symbolic word choice.
Sonically, abstract artists often use unconventional beats that are akin in style to experimental hip hop. These beats usually contain unexpected cut-offs in the sound and sudden cuts in rhythm that evoke feelings of extreme vulnerability.
In terms of lyricism, some of the most well-known examples of abstract hip hop include Earl Sweatshirt, Diz, and Kevin Abstract. These artists are known for their engagingly cryptic lyricism and use of avant-garde production techniques.
Earl Sweatshirt is a rapper from Odd Future who uses jazz samples in his music to create an unusually avant-garde sound. His debut album Some Rap Songs is a great example of this as it is full of emotional depth and expresses an extreme amount of vulnerability.
Danny Brown is a rapper from New York who used to rap under the alias XXX. He has recommitted to his music career in 2007 and released several mixtapes. His style is characterized by his high-pitched voice and frenetic, uneven delivery.