“Sheddin’ tears is what I’m about” is not the typical machismo line you would expect from a hip-hop artist. Little Pain (who uses the name Sobbin Williams for inquires over email), a 21-year-old rapper from Brooklyn, is a pioneer of a new subgenre of hip-hop called sad rap. With songs like “SMH (Broke Boyz Anthem),” “High Cry” and “Love Tears,” it’s obvious that Little Pain isn’t afraid of hiding any of his emotions in his songs.
“I’m sad for many reasons, but the main one is because we live in a sad world and I really don’t remember a time when I wasn’t sad,” Little Pain said. “I just try to relate my music to things that reflect on me as a person.”
In the great age of the Internet, it’s no surprise that such a niche subgenre has the possibility of taking off. Lil B, a slapstick rapper who has videos with over 1 million views, is the founder of “based” music, which he defines as being yourself and staying positive.
This typically turns into stream-of-consciousness rapping, where the strive for perfection is almost looked down upon.
“Lil B influences my music in the sense that he made it possible for someone like me to even be able make sad rap,” Little Pain said.
It isn’t just hip-hop songs that are sad. There are plenty of tearjerkers in the broad genre. For example, there’s the hip-hop classic “Stan,” by Eminem, which tells the story of a fan committing suicide after Eminem didn’t reply to fan mail, which, ironically, was answered after his death.
The emphasis of sad rap actually appears to be the act of crying. There are no real narrative in these songs, Little Pain is just always sad.
In an interview with Pigeons & Planes, Little Pain claimed to have cried after he stubbed his pinky toe about 20 minutes before the interview.
Is sad rap something that we can take seriously? Probably not. But the artists in the subgenre appear to think we should. James Prudhomme, also known as Suicideyear, is one of the producers for Little Pain.
“Sad rap doesn’t need to ‘take off,’” Prudhomme said. “There will always be sad rap, even after Little Pain.”
It’s a nice breath of fresh air to see hip-hop artists experimenting with something new. Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” which isn’t exactly avant-garde, isn’t a set of cookie-cutter raps over a set of 808 drums. Maybe we should look at this as the experimentation the genre needs to push the edge a bit. Or maybe it’s just something fun that doesn’t need to change a thing. Either way it’s all in good (or sad) fun.
In the meantime, Little Pain is currently performing shows without very much promotion. Instead of the usual fliers and Facebook events, Little Pain opts to promote his shows with tweets in his classic style: “My performance is going to be horrible :’(.”