Ironic and Meme Rap

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Typical meme-rappers.

In an ever-evolving society, there are often instances of two entities coming together and producing an unexpected, original movement (whether that be for the better or worse). While that in itself is fine, there are the occasional bastardizations of both pieces of the pair that should never exist. Ever.

In this case study we will focus on the recent trend of ironic and/or meme rap music.

So what is it?

To summarize briefly, both meme and ironic rap are only enjoyable when, you guessed it, listened to ironically.

Further characterizations

  • Ironic/meme rap is almost always self-produced and distributed, with few exceptions (ie, Kanye).
  • Lyrical content usually consists of a stream-of-consciousness like narrative (or, as of lately, anti-narrative).
  • Frequently makes reference to Twitter, often creating trends in song (ie, #based, #shotsfired, #rekt). Although nowadays, even mainstream rappers mention Twitter.
  • Lyrical content makes frequent allusions to drugs (especially cannabis), hoes, and social media.
  • Various nonsensical words added, usually "whoop" or "swag".
  • The iconic "parental advisory" sticker is often added to album art despite most albums and mixtapes being self-released (and usually not even physically distributed).
  • Strong connections to the internet, especially Twitter.


While both are often enjoyed by the same audience for the same reasons, the difference between ironic and meme rap lies within the integrity of the musician. Ironic rap is made simply to be ironic, often to parody the mannerisms used by more well-known mainstream artists, whereas meme rap is created with the intent to be actually enjoyed. Often, one or more elements (usually those listed above) will backfire on a sincere artist, forcing them into meme rap status.


Ironic rap

Swag woo woo.jpg

Lil B

Nuvola apps xmag.png Moar info: Lil B.

Lil B aka THE BASEDGOD is often accredited as being the architect of ironic rap (although MF DOOM could arguably take this position). He used to be a semi-serious rapper as a member of the "The Pack", but went into full-blown fuck it mode and made his career into a meme. His music completely fills the ironic/meme rap checklist and has a heavily dedicated following. Purveyor of several memes, most notably: look like X (usually Jesus), hoes on my dick, thank you based god/tybg, etc. In addition to all of this, he often makes absurd public statements hinting at a possible troll status.

Yung Lean

Yung lean.jpg

An underage Swedish rapper who attempts to imitate Lil B with minimal effort. The majority of his beats are ripped from Soundcloud, which, coupled with poorly delivered lyrics about drugs he probably couldn't get, creates a barely listenable (even out of irony) portrait of a confused white boy. Often uses imagery pertaining to American products, especially Arizona Iced Tea. Basipally, equals Lil B but sad all of the time + Vaporwave.



Somewhat talented rapper with intentionally boring/bad stream-of-consciousness style. Usually associates himself with retro-psychedelic styles and imagery.

Meme rap

Kanye West

Nuvola apps xmag.png Moar info: Kanye West.

Keep it 300 like the Romans


—Kanye, failing history class

A self-absorbed, overly determined media clown. Was considered "good" during his primitive years as a musician, until moving onto his "experimental" stage in which he payed off Pitchfork to glorify his mediocre attempts at originality. Doesn't care about white people.

Tyler, The Creator

Nuvola apps xmag.png Moar info: OFWGKTA.

Tyler the nigger.jpg

A self-made e-celebrity, Tyler's image and music are designed to appeal to "edgy" teenagers who got tired of listening to Snoop Dogg while smoking a bowl. His 2013 release, Wolf, is pretty much the epitome of meme rap, combining memorable social media trends with 4chan lingo and, of course, product placement. All this being said, his Bastard album is actually quite good.

Chance the Rapper

Chance The Rapper.jpg

Essentially the black Bobby Hill in both voice and idiosyncratic behavior. His advocacy of mind-alerting substances would force even Terence McKenna to re-evaluate his beliefs.

/mu/'s Essential Ironic/Meme Rap

The Essentials

What is not ironic/meme rap

  • An artist who may have spawned a meme through their music, but isn't actively listened to (ie, Insane Clown Posse).
  • Anything produced before the pre-Web 3.0 revolution (ie, MF DOOM, De La Soul).

See also

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