Phonk Music Unwrapped: The History, Culture, and Future of the Genre

A Genre of Hip Hop and Trap Music Inspired by 1990s Memphis Rap

Date: 2023-03-10    |    Author: FSM Team

Phonk Music Unwrapped: The History, Culture, and Future of the Genre
Photo: Philipp Lansing

Phonk is a relatively new subgenre of hip-hop and trap music that is greatly influenced by the 90s Memphis rap. It is characterized by dark, gritty beats, screwed and chopped vocals, and references the hard life on the streets. Phonk has emerged as a popular genre among the youth and also music producers, and has been notably embraced by the underground music scene.

Origin and Evolution

Phonk originated in the mid 2010s and has since become very popular, with artists like DJ Yung Vamp, DJ Smokey, and Soudiere being among the most influential. You can notice phonk's unique sound, lo-fi samples, blending heavy basslines, and distorted vocals. Memphis rap became famous thanks to artists like Project Pat, Three 6 Mafia, and DJ Paul.

Phonk upgrades the sound of Memphis rap by adding a modern twist on it. The genre is mostly influenced by trap music, which has become increasingly popular in the last ten years. Phonk features trap-style drums, hi-hats, and 808s, combined with the atmospheric sound of Memphis rap. The result is a haunting and infectious sound.

Royalty-Free Phonk Music

Royalty-free phonk music and beats are gaining popularity in the industry due to their unique sound and creative approach. Among the many talented producers in this genre, Rexlambo, Ghostrifter, MAITTRE, Aylex (Alex-Productions), and Lesion X are some of the notable names. If you are content creator or vlogger, you can use their music and beats just by crediting the artist.

The Production Process

Phonk is known for its production style, which includes chopping and screwing samples to create its distinct sound. Producers use software like Ableton and FL Studio to process samples, slowing them down and adding effects like reverb and distortion. The result is an instantly recognizable dark and hypnotic sound.

Phonk producers may also use vinyl records and cassette tapes for music samples from the 1990s. Such vintage sources are the reason for phonk's unique sound, including the raw and gritty sound of Memphis rap. Interestingly, artists claim the use of old-school equipment is a nod to the past and a creative way to honor the genre's roots.

Lyrics and Themes

Phonk lyrics include the language of the street. The genre is greatly influenced by gangster rap and trap music, with artists sharing through music their experiences growing up in rough neighborhoods. The lyrics are often graphic and explicit, depicting the harsh realities of life on the streets.

Phonk artists also rap about the culture of the 1990s, with mentions of classic movies, video games, and popular TV shows. Such references contribute to the genre's nostalgic feel, taking listeners back to the years when Memphis rap ruled.

Impact and Future

Young people are the most regular phonk fans and got the attention of music producers with the latter using social media platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube. The genre, of course, has been embraced by the underground music scene. Artists usually collaborate and share their work on forums and online communities.

It is hard to predict the future of phonk but its typical sound and style will certainly continue to influence the world of trap and hip-hop music. Phonk will remain influential as long as there are artists and producers who get inspired by its gritty and raw sound reminiscent of the Memphis rap. The genre is likely to evolve which means it has the potential to leave its mark on the world of hip-hop and trap music.