Abstracthiphop is a sub-genre of hip hop music that is characterized by engagingly cryptic lyricism mixed with often experimental beats. The genre draws inspiration from the Bristol ‘Trip Hop’ scene and features a mix of classic dub-drops and dirty cuts directly sampled from vinyl.
The ethos of abstracthiphop is malleable and stubbornly resists categorization; however, there are signs that it may be gaining in popularity among hip-hop music affiliates. The emergence of this new genre of music can be seen as a response to the challenges faced by hip-hop’s most ardent affiliates, who struggle to maintain their identity within a rapidly changing cultural space and who frequently find it difficult to make sense of what’s expected from them.
Unlike mainstream hip-hop music, which uses speech-like pitch to “resolve” phrases at the end of rhymed lines, rapper Snow Tha Product forgoes the use of “resolving vocal pitches” in exchange for exaggerated declamatory styles that increase from line to line (Example 9). This stylistic approach is similar to those employed by other contemporary “crossover” artists like Lizzo, Chance the Rapper, and Drake who freely flit between R&B, soul, and rap tropes without worrying about whether the transitions are coherent or appropriate.
This inclination towards hype is evident not only in how hip-hop music is listened to but also in the ways in which it is represented through graffiti writing, fashion, and performance. In all of these contexts, hip-hop’s heightened attention to locality (Forman 2002) is reinforced by its ability to organize around tight circles of affiliated allegiants who serve as sources of social support and who provide an allyship for the music creators they most admire.