Emo, hardcore, SoundCloud, DIY; preface it how you will, the underground rap movement in America is booming and has been for years. Quietly, under the noses of parents, record labels and industry executives alike, an extremely young hip hop revolution has taken hold, garnering more influence over mainstream music each day. At its forefront are burgeoning artists like South Florida's $NOT and Dayton Ohio's Jasiah — performing together at the House of Blues side room, the Bronze Peacock, on February 7.
Described as a rebirth of punk, the modern underground hip hop movement finds its genesis in the online music platform SoundCloud. Though the term "Soundcloud Rapper" now denotes negative connotations of face tattoos, poor lyricism and problematic personalities, the global underground movement is more alive and influential than ever. Today's highest-charting young artists — names like Billie Eilish and Post Malone — mirror a mainstream version of the underground aesthetic popularized by the like's of the late Lil Peep and XXXtentacion.
Since the release of his 2018 viral hit, "Gosha", Florida native $NOT (pronounced snot) has been on an upward trajectory. The 21-year-old artist with a signature tied hoodie look gained a cult online following that's made him one of the leading acts in indie-rap. Last summer his single "Billy Boy" was featured in the HBO hit drama "Euphoria", and he was given an influential co-sign by Billie Eilish that raised his national clout to new heights. Some fans, however, have voiced displeasure in his newfound fame.
"A lot of my fans really value that I am 'undiscovered'," says $NOT. "They like that they can be the one that shows their friend cool underground music. I think the real reason they don’t want me to 'leave the underground' or 'get too big' is because they think I’ll stop appreciating them but that will never happen because I could never forget the people that supported me from the beginning."
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The young star will soon launch his first tour, a national stint with friend and fellow SoundCloud phenom, Jasiah. The Midwesterner and self-described non-rapper has made waves of his own behind a genre-bending brand of emo and hardcore hip hop that borrows heavily from punk and grunge. The two collaborated on the single "Ca$e 19" one year ago and recently reconnected for this tour.
"I got a few tour offers last year from bigger artists but I wanted to do my first tour with someone that I was more familiar with," says $NOT on the decision to perform and travel with Jasiah. The two will launch their 17-city circuit on February 6 in Dallas, making Houston their second stop.
The tour comes ahead of some major 2020 releases slated for both artists, most notably $NOT's debut album, - TRAGEDY +. "We're clearing all the samples now," he says, promising its release in the next few months.
The show is scheduled for February 7 in the Bronze Peacock Room of the House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline. For information, visit the tour website. Doors open at 7 p.m. $20-$60.