“Get Refreshed” is a monthly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world.
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I Don’t Have The Stamina For This Blogging Shit
Hi. I’m back, and this time I brought my friends. So… I feel like this column could use a lot less Me every once in a while. I don’t treat blogging like a sport; I barely even blog at all. But even still, I know damn well that blogging isn’t really where I strive compared to others, and that’s okay! I have to write research papers every day… we are simply not the same.
In all seriousness, I do want to explain what’s going on here before we jump into things. I am a person of platforming, a platforming person, if you will (it is my job for SoundCloud, after all). I just really enjoy turning the spotlight towards those who deserve it most. Most of the time – all of the time, really – I’m featuring musicians. But what about turning this spotlight towards other people who like to… spotlight musicians as well? Is this really ever done? Not often! Can it be done? Should it be done? Yes and yes!
So that’s why I’m doing it.
Now who are these people, exactly? Well… bloggers, of course! When I was writing more frequently for LL and other places, I felt like I was doing my best to shed light on rising acts who were either unknown or overshadowed at the time. I still try and do that with this very column, and I certainly try to do so in other manners now; today’s blogging renascence figures, however, are doing this at a blistering pace, and they deserve to get their flowers.
Here’s a group of my favorite writers working today – those of which have taken the once-lost artform of blogging and have revived, transformed, and supplemented it to the brilliant status it holds today. I’m in awe of them, and you should be too! That’s why they’re here.
Finally…Some Music That Won’t Kill A Victorian Child
Get your finest tunics dry-cleaned; it’s REGALIA time. No, this isn’t Game of Thrones, but I probably would’ve actually watched that if it was soundtracked by Royal ansem, Reset and the other producers behind this emerging sound of internet rap. These beats are like palace doors opening to an infinite staircase. Triumphant MIDI strings cascade over 808s, the raw materials clicking into place like the stonemasonry of a castle. If rage is all forward motion, then regalia is ascension.
You might’ve heard of some guy named Iayze—he’s the biggest name hopping on these beats—but my favorite rapper in the scene is Devstacks, not least because he’s from Springfield, MA. Try to picture a teenager posted in the cattle pastures of western Mass making the hardest final boss music of the year.
Devstacks was producing for Summrs, Autumn and other big names on SoundCloud a few years ago. His first song as a rapper seems to date back to 2020. I’m gonna be honest: when I first heard him rap, I thought he was boring as hell. Here you had these gigantic, Winnie The Pooh levitation type beats and then…monotone Auto-Crooning? What caught me off guard was that this music is slow. Regalia challenges the propulsive sound of online rap today. Binge a bunch of Yeat music and I guarantee you’ll be hovering over the skip button once Devstacks is queued up. But ask yourself this: How many more Geek Packs can you really listen to? Take a break from the action. Here’s a sandglass filled with diamonds. Here’s “Vivienne Soulja.”We can talk forever about how Chief Keef influenced this and Chief Keef started that, but what’s more interesting to me is how his descendants transform tiny pieces of his artistry into entirely new forms. Devstacks channels Keef’s slow-flows into sheer opulence. It’s obvious homage—“Heart Breaker” is uncanny—but it’s not quite imitation. Devstacks isn’t as compelling a vocalist as Keef, but like Gunna is to Thug, Dev uses his flatter tone to burrow into beats and convey sharp emotions. Like when he shrugs, perfectly, “I’m so done with her…” on “Waitin For Me.” For how grand Dev’s music sounds, you can sense a darkness approaching underneath the minor chords. I’m excited to see how he taps the emotional well of this sound as he sharpens his sword.
Five songs I like:
Devstacks feat. d0llywood1 – “Why You Lying”
Devstacks feat. DCaff – “Savior”
Devstacks – “Money Dance”
Devstacks – “Now They Know Us/Vivienne Soulja”
Devstacks – “Waitin For Me”
The Democratization of Digital Voices, and “Pissy Pamper” Video Game Edits
I’m intrigued by what you could call the “democratization” or malleability of recorded voice in the digital era. With easy access to a capellas of published (or unreleased) tracks online, bedroom producers have created dozens of fanmade songs and unsanctioned remixes featuring their favorite artists’ vocals. Some have accrued millions of views on YouTube, like Forgotten’s remix of Juicy J & Travis Scott’s neon-hued “Neighborhood.” Others have soared on TikTok: see racki’s euphoric cut “talk 2 me,” which weaves Playboi Carti vocals into Makoto Matsushita’s breezy “Love Was Really Gone.” One of the coolest in this vein is Ilusion’s remix of “@MEH,” which involved decelerating Carti’s vocals from that track and layering them over a sped-up, trap-ified version of Hal Walker’s “Low Key Glidin.” (Which itself is an instrumental blown on the khaen, a Laotian mouth organ made of bamboo, which originally blew up on TikTok.) On the internet, the a capella-ized human voice is like putty for producer-pirates to pitch-shift, accelerate, fragment, and mold around new beats until it becomes alien. (See also: the ex-d*riacore community’s imaginative recycling of a capellas.)
Carti is a frequent source of fan mashups. There are remixes where his vocals are left untweaked, and the track is altered in some other devious fashion. Take the remix of “Sky” made to sound like it’s bouncing from the dusty speakers of a Sega Genesis console; an edit of “GO2DAMOON” flexing an extended haunting intro; Minecraft-themed cringe-covers.
Maybe my favorite Carti fan trend is the recent explosion of “Pissy Pamper” edits. Remixers snatch the never-released floaty hook — “they tryna be cray, they tryna be cray, she wanna meet Carti, that bitch is a Barbie” — and replace the last word in every line with sounds from sundry video games and media objects. It’s an unusually creative trend for TikTok, where most crazes feature people dancing or lip syncing to a designated, unchanging audio. This time, creators are forging their own soundtracks as well. It’s hard to tell who originated the fad, but the oldest one I discovered was an early 2020 flip stitched with Star Wars creatures caterwauling.
The biggest now is “they trunna be subway surf,” which mutates Carti’s verse with a patchwork of sounds from the mobile game “Subway Surfers,” like the doofy officer howling “Hey!” and the whirring noise of a player’s score increasing. Before, the most popular edit was “they tryna be fnaf,” featuring pixelated noises emitted by “Five Nights at Freddy’s” characters. The first “cray” becomes a benevolent Hi!, the second turns into a frolicsome ha-ha-ha, the word “Carti” morphs into a robotic Hello, and the “Barbie” dissolves into nightmarish ambient echoes.
There’s “they tryna be Minecraft,” featuring Zombie, Chicken, Cave, and Villager noises sampled from the game. Find remixes themed after Fortnite Battle Royale, Friday Night Funkin’, Dragon Age, Mario, and Bloons Tower Defense. There’s a Pokemon mix with Regirock, Regice, Registeel, and Regigigas’ battle cries, which are inserted so closely to Carti’s vocals that it’s actually sort of unnerving. Regigigas’ vomiting cackle jumpscared me the first time I listened. These mashups have a spectral, hallucinatory quality; the brief effects puncture the soundscape right where your brain expects Carti’s warble to land. It’s weirdly addictive in short bursts, especially if you’ve played the original video games and feel nostalgic for the FX.
On Writing In The Internet Age, and The Wild World of “Hyperpop”
The internet is a place where the most absurd of influences can come together to create something ridiculous and magical. Hyper-online, intensely cheesy, self-referential, heavily ironic – while also taking itself intensely seriously – are just a few of the identifying features of the internet music scene I have been following since the beginning of my tenure as a writer in 2019.
Writing about “hyperpop” and the surrounding spheres of music, as well as its bodacious aesthetics, feels like piecing together the wackiest puzzle. Turned-up-to-12 remixes of corny 2000s dance tracks after they experience a cultural resurgence in A24 films? Sure! Aloof electronic bangers about road head as the soundtrack for Vogue Russia accessories campaigns? Why not? Slowly, by always monitoring online scenes and digging into their influences through interviews, I’m learning to put it all together.
Stay tuned as I use my column “Hautepop” in Ringtone Magazine as my own personal pinboard to draw connections between the worlds of high fashion and the extremely online.
Seven SoundCloud Producers Defining the Absurd Genius of Baile Funk
Oh god, how am I here with all of these cool writers….deep breaths…..deep breaths…. Okay, I’m all good to go now! Before I nerd out on y’all, I just want to thank the bestie and much cooler Bill for giving me the keys to the boat for a little bit so that I can show you folks some of the craziest music on the internet. [Editor’s Note: Don’t be scared bestie… you earned it! <3]
When you think about music scenes that have flourished on SoundCloud, I’d assume that some of you may think of things like Digicore, Sigilkore, that other “core” genre that was originally named after that one 90’s cartoon that I’m not allowed to say (core is such an ugly word – can we stop using it please?), and probably like 100 other scenes that KPR has probably put in their SoundCloud encyclopedia already. But out of everything that uses that good ol’ orange website, I believe that the one music scene that is on a whole other stratosphere compared to the others is one that is located down in beautiful Brazil.
Baile funk/funk carioca is a music culture down there that I respect tremendously. From its early roots in Rio, combining the Afro-Brazilian sounds of the region with their admiration for the 808-heavy feel of Miami Bass from the 80s, baile funk is a music party monolith that has reflected the beautiful culture of many Brazilians and garnered an incredible evolution in the past few decades. While it has had its fair share of unjust scrutiny, mostly due to it being a culture centered around and embraced by poorer black communities, funk is something that many Brazilians hold near and dear to their hearts. Once the 2000s and later, the internet rolled around, that unique drum-based sound from Rio had started to spread to other major hubs in Southeastern Brazil, where today, you have 3 distinctly giant pillars to the funk sound that makes it one of the most compelling music scenes on the entire planet.
First, you have Rio, its birthplace, whose sound is probably the most traditional out of the three, where that easily distinguishable funk drum pattern is riddled throughout much of Rio’s funk. The real interesting aspect of the Rio sound is the incredible amount of differing drum patterns that pushes its sound to new territories, but still keeps that essence of funk altogether. Next, you have the city of Belo Horizonte, who has a sound so unique that oozes nothing but atmosphere, throwing out most drums and replacing it with pluckingly playful samples that add so much ingenuity and genius to the funk sound – you’d think this music would be from the 2030s. BH has been the scene in funk that has picked up the most steam these last few years, as the evolution of the young style has been insane to witness. Lastly, you have the local Party City disguised as a city, São Paulo, whose sound has been greatly influenced by EDM music in the last few years, where the rave-filled style of funk mandelão has pushed funk music into uncharted territories. In just those three cities alone, you have an unfathomable amount of funk music to go through. Keep in mind that this music is designed for bailes, so its point is to be loud as hell and get all the funkieros at the parties going. Like seriously, I need one of those big ass speaker systems to vaporize my face off one day….
But lately, funk keeps hitting new extremes: The music just gets louder, faster, and more insane by the minute. I truly do believe that Brazil is seriously one of the most important music ecosystems in this existing universe, as it is one of the few places currently that reflects what true future music sounds like. Like seriously, I will say it again and again – There’s NOTHING else like this on Earth. There are so many incredible Brazilian magicians of sound that contribute to this unique culture, and it doesn’t seem like funk music isn’t slowing down anytime soon, as it is one of the most popular genres of music in one of the largest countries on earth that keeps growing. It’s so insane to think that a music scene of this caliber has been frequently spreading on SoundCloud (in addition to YouTube and TikTok), but the site is a very important part of the scene. Here, I just want to talk about a few of these artists on SoundCloud that really showcase how diverse and ahead-of-the-curve baile funk is. Honestly, if I could, I would force each and every one of you to take a 16 week course on funk with a midterm and a final, but we have our own obligations, so here’s just a few folks that I really do think define the absurd genius of baile funk.
Damn, we’re already starting off with a goliath of a producer and honestly, one of my favorites in all of Brazil. Out of everyone contributing to that vastly unique funk sound in Belo Horizonte, DJ THALES JQL is like if the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse fused into a single being – a sonorous alchemist of doom and destruction that can destroy any fancy ass speaker system within 20 seconds or your money back guaranteed. No matter how many times you think you’re ready, you are never fully prepared to listen to a DJ THALES tune. There’s this absolutely ridiculous barrage of ear-splitting slashes of sound coming from these high-pitched samples that is clashed with this abrasively gargantuan bassy force field that feels like a hydraulic press that gives DJ THALES such a world-ending sound. There’s nothing that exhibits that overwhelming feeling better than “BEAT DO EMPURRA EMPURRA,” a track that feels like there’s a spaceship firing a 20 mile wide death ray towards your town – the suffocating bass hits that accompany this deranged-sounding alarm tone is mind-rattling. Every Thales tune is like a strangely shaped giant asteroid that’s hurling towards you and all that you were given to stop it is some goalie gloves – you’re not gonna stop it whether you’re Ederson or not and it’s gonna kick your ass. I keep thinking of things coming out of the sky when I think of DJ Thales because his music seriously feels like it’s coming down to us from another planet – no one on Earth can even compare to this guy. Also, can we PLEASE VERIFY THIS MAN ALREADY! (Oh, I almost forgot this one that uses the WhatsApp noise… CREEDOOOOOO
In funk music currently, I don’t think there’s anyone who blends the line between the internet and boots-on-the-ground bailes more perfectly than Volta Redonda’s DJ RaMeMes. He’s seriously one of Rio’s best funk producers, and is one who has been incredibly pushing the limits of that style for a good while now. RaMeMes really does live up to the moniker of “The Destroyer of Funk,” as his blown-out energetic sound feels like it was made in some type of secret baile lab to make the most danceable music imaginable. A lot of that feel comes from his drums which are just so crisp and pristine, but at the same time rugged and raw – His sound is so perfect that it just relentlessly echoes throughout and beyond the bailes bumping his music. The way that DJ RaMeMes sometimes samples stuff more recognizable for “os gringos” gives him a lot of crossover appeal, whether he’s breathing a whole new life into a New Order tune, throwing the infectious Neymar beat onto that one Bunny Girl song, or remarkably remixing some Brent Faiyaz TikTok hits. Yet, RaMeMes just isn’t some producer that just samples familiar tunes; he’s, like what I said earlier, someone who pushes the Rio sound. You can see that with instances like his absolutely absurd 30 minute long 200 BPM funk mix that is just a face-melting experience that you don’t ever want to end or something from his 130BPM RAPIDO series, which boasts one of the most hypnotizing and unique grooves I have ever heard in funk music – he’s really one of the best who does this shit. On top of that, from the brief interaction I’ve had with him and just his overall personality, DJ RaMeMes is such a great producer to root for; I hope this is just the beginning of his success and he is able to show the whole world who the Destroyer of Funk truly is.
One of the most unique funk artists on Soundcloud, Brasilia’s rensgo makes some of the most dream-like and hazy tunes out of anyone in the country. They’re really one of the perfect examples of “internet funk,” compared to regular funk made for bailes in favelas. That echoey and ethereal sound which can be heard in songs like “BERIMBAU ANGELICAL” and “MEGA DISSOCIATIVA” reminds me of producers like Mechatok and Whitearmor – That coldly ambient sound feels absolutely breathtaking every single time. Seriously, go through all of the tracks on their profile; rensgo really does give their take on most funk styles, whether BH or mandelão, and still goes above and beyond with their uniqueness to give the internet some of the most beautifully moody funk music around – Someone to keep your eye on!
Now this one might give a few of y’all some nightmares tonight after listening, so don’t say that I didn’t warn you! One of my favorite developments in funk music as of late is this occultish and horror-like style that feels like the producer is performing a full seance in the middle of a baile. That ghoulish feel can be seen in popular producers like DJ ANDERSON DO PARAÍSO or underground Soundcloud demons like DJ AL DE CAMPOS, but one of my favorites who try to put a curse on their audience is DJ SILAS DO JURMENTO, someone who just constantly baffles me everytime I see their name online. In this style, you have these drum patterns that feel like actual demons are trying to communicate with you; they are so stuttery and unsettling, but at the same time so damn ingenious. Once you press play on a DJ Silas tune, it’s almost like a thick smoke starts forming in your house and then the lights go out, petrifying you. You think The Undertaker is here to beat your ass, but instead you have this kid with a big ass speaker, and somehow, that scares you even more. On tracks like “NÓIS É ENVOLVIDO MESMO VS BASTA VOCÊ ESPERAR” and “MAGIA ASSUSTADORA DO JURAMENTO,” you feel like you’re in a climax of a horror movie – there’s this suffocating feeling of dread that the big scary monster is coming to get you and you just know how inevitable it is. Also, looking at tracks that state things like “2K27” or “2060,” DJ Silas’s music really does feel like it has been brought to us from the future – there’s seriously nothing like this ANYWHERE. Hope you’re sleeping with one eye open tonight!
Ok, well here I am lying in the title, as this isn’t a single producer, but instead, an entire coalition of Brazilian kids on the internet who love making well-produced shitposts mostly involving baile funk. In that sense, NaçãoRebolation69 is a collective that reminds me very much of a certain nation of twerkers, but they are also similar in the way that both groups just want to break the Guinness World Record for “The Most Members in an Internet Music Collective on SoundCloud” (Look it up! I’m not BS’ing; That’s a real record.). But, obvious comparisons aside, NaçãoRebolation69 is a lot more varied in their sound, as they have the entire spectrum of funk in their toolbox to play with, in addition to interpretations of genres like uptempo (VERY LOUD), hyperbaile (yes,that’s a real thing), and even Jersey club (I mean hell, they even remixed a TwerkNation song!). One of my favorite things about NR69 is the ridiculous use of sampling in some of their tracks that only internet-poisoned folks would decipher, with instances like Yabujin, Drain Gang, or some real sad emo music. The way these kids take these samples and saturate them with the undeniable irresistibility of funk music is seriously a marvel and joy to witness; Shitposts are always good when they’re funny, but shitposts are REALLY REALLY good if they’re funny AND good, and NR69 hits that sweet spot perfectly. In addition to making remixes to familiar songs, there are some members who make really stellar and obnoxious interpretations of funk styles, ranging from rave funk to that really scary funk we were talking about earlier to more Rio-drum-based funk (yes, that is THE twikipedia who’s a member of NR69!). Some other notable members of the group include SHINEE!!, Yandrel, and Lagden/Yung Bostola, among many others, and I can assume that that number is only going to grow. All in all, shiposts or not, these folks are making some absolutely insane music, all on top of having fun with their friends on the internet, which is always one of the best modern joys in life – you can never beat that.
If I had to choose a favorite style of funk, it would probably be the party-filled sound of São Paulo’s rave funk/funk mandelão scene, a take on the genre that draws obvious influence from the type of EDM you would hear at a festival in the middle of nowhere where everybody’s staring at the dude with the light up fingers. With funk mandelão, everything just sounds so BIG, and you’re just frothing from the mouth waiting for that drop, as you can never truly expect what they’re going to throw at you. One of the best of that style who is also great at blurring the lines between internet funk and funk for bailes is São Paulo’s DJ RAZK ORIGINAL, an anime-loving hard hitter of funk mandelão who is just constantly relentless with all of their tracks. Seriously, spend a good bit of time going through DJ Razk’s profile, as you really do get a good grasp of that constantly in-your-face feel of rave funk – it’s ridiculous! Me calling them an anime lover earlier was alluding to the fact that they love to sample music from different animes in their tunes and just turn them into these blown-out monstrosities of heaters that will blow all the doors off their hinges in your house. Trust me, this shit can get LOUD! Another motif of DJ RAZK’s profile that I enjoy is the obvious influence EDM giant Skrillex has had on them, as there are multiple remixes involving the music of that prominent figure with the funny hair; Razk even has their own interpretation of “FUNKSTEP” where you can hear that obvious influence. But overall, DJ RAZK ORIGINAL is someone to keep your eye on, as they continue to make music that baffles me. Ending it on this ridiculous Linkin Park remix that boggles my brain – these people are from another world, I swear.
The thing with funk mandelão is that a lot of the more prominent producers mainly upload on YouTube, but you know damn well there’s someone who will go ahead and upload those tunes onto SoundCloud like an [insert Slayworld member here] Archive account. Here I am lying again by not talking about a single producer, but instead a funkiero archivist in SP who goes by @013.Igu, who loves to just upload some of the best tunes in the city that gets everyone at those bailes who’s throwing them umbrellas around going (Yes, they do that). The big appeal with funk mandelão, for me, is that it sounds so alien and futuristic, while at the same time, these producers are trying to make your head explode with how abrasive and loud everything can be at times. Like, this music is designed for big ass speakers, not those small, little Airpods that look like earplugs. While yeah, it will still sound large and good on headphones, it doesn’t translate as well as some decent bassy speakers – you can feel it in your chest, as it’s meant to be experienced. Even try blaring it in your car, as that is just as optimal! But back to 013.Igu, as he really showcases some of the best talents in rave funk, like DJ ARANA, DJ GH7 (the use of arabic samples in funk is an insane development), and DJ C15 DA ZO (again, VERY LOUD warning). I can already picture some of you right now covering your ears to protect your hearing, and to that I say, it’s always fun to give your ears a little stress test every now and then!!! But, 013.Igu isn’t the only funkiero preserving rave funk on the little orange site that could, as there are loads of other accounts like this archiving those tracks. Some favorites of mine are DJ PETTY, Victor Santos, and @oandre0, among 100s of others. All of those accounts really give you a glimpse of how deep funk mandelão is and why it’s one of my favorite music scenes in the world right now – just pure fun and chaos.
Now, all of this doesn’t even scrape the tiniest bit of surface on this monolith of a music scene. Baile funk is MASSIVE, and is only growing as each day passes. While I did touch on some lesser-known artists, please don’t hesitate to check out some of the more popular juggernauts of the scene. If that loudly moody and atmospheric style of Belo Horizonte is more your thing (it’s a close 2nd favorite of mine!), totally check out artists like DJ Wesley Gonzaga, Gui Marques, DJ PH DA SERRA, and DJ VITIN DO PC. Another BH artist to keep your eye on is DJ PH MPC, one of the best in the area – those folks over there are making some of the most unique music in the world right now! If you are more interested in funk more rooted in Rio, I highly recommend producers like DJ ROGERINHO DO QUERÔ, DJ DENTINHO DO ESCADÃO, and DJ YURI DA ESCÓCIA – all top tier artists in the birthplace of funk. Okay, well I think that’s enough music for one day! I really hope that y’all can now see how unique and absolutely insane funk is and how Brazil is continuing to be one of the best music countries in the world. If I didn’t blow your mind at least once, then I failed at my job, and the folks over here are going to force me to work at the lemonade stand from now on. No, but seriously, I really do hope you discovered something new today, and always remember to let your curiosity guide you on that lil orange site because it really causes you to find some of the most absurdly good music in the world! Thanks to Bill again for having me and thanks to everybody for reading!