1063 Views

What is Phonk Music: Steps, Culture, Songs & Artists

Music Industry

what is phonk music
08 Dec, 2023

Share

This guide defines phonk music and elucidates its origins, evolution, characteristics, and subgenres. It also evaluates why phonk is endearing and the factors that contribute to its popularity. A short introduction of various subgenres helps you understand phonk better. Popular artists and songs help you assimilate the genre. As you explore the genre, tips for creating good phonk music can help you become an artist and make waves in the phonk music industry.

Welcome to TheDemoStop, now join the community!

Connect with artists, fans and producers around the world.

What is phonk music?

Originating in the 1990s, Phonk is a subgenre of hip hop and trap music. It’s characterized by its gritty, lo-fi production sound, often incorporating samples from old-school 90s Memphis rap, chopped and screwed vocals, slowed-down beats, and a dark, atmospheric vibe. Phonk music often has a nostalgic feel, paying homage to the sounds and aesthetics of 90s rap while adding a modern twist.

Origins of phonk music

Memphis: birthplace of phonk

With a vibrant 1990s rap and hip-hop culture, phonk music largely emerged in Memphis, Tennessee. This style was considerably influenced by Memphis artists, including Tommy Wright III, Three 6 Mafia, DJ Spanish Fly, and others. These musicians experimented with unusual sounds, fusing gritty, and violent lyrics with ominous beats.

Horror films and Memphis culture

The influence of horror films and the distinct culture of Memphis also played a crucial role in shaping phonk music. Memphis, known for its history, culture, and struggles, notably contributed to the subgenre’s dark and haunting themes. The use of horror film samples, eerie melodies, and lyrics reflecting the realities of urban life in Memphis all contributed to the unique atmosphere and aesthetic of phonk music. These elements combined to create a style that reflects both the musical innovations of the time and the cultural backdrop of memphis.

Evolution of phonk music

Phonk music has undergone substantial changes since its emergence in the 1990s. With the emergence of the internet and online streaming platforms, the genre has spread throughout the world. Modern production methods have facilitated the addition of musical variations without losing the raw, low-fidelity feel of the original. The genre’s influences have expanded because of its merging with trap, lo-fi, hip-hop, and electronic music, giving rise to subgenres and various interpretations. Additionally, the contributions of musicians from all over the world, with unique musical inventions and cultural backgrounds, have expanded and broadened the phonk style, helping it become an international phenomenon.

Characteristics of phonk music

Tempo and rhythm

Phonk music typically features a slower tempo compared with mainstream hip hop, often approximately 60–75 beats per minute (BPM). The deliberate slowing down of beats contributes to its laid-back, atmospheric vibe. The rhythm tends to be repetitive, emphasizing a hypnotic and groove-oriented feel that aligns with phonk music’s chilled out aesthetic.

Use of samples and loops

Phonk uses a lot of samples, particularly because of influences from Memphis soul and rap in the 1990s. These samples were chopped, altered, and looped by producers, who frequently added vintage drum beats, melodies, and vocal snippets. To produce the unique low-fidelity, murky sound that is characteristic of phonk, the samples were often slowed down, pitched-shifted, or distorted.

Incorporation of various genres

Phonk musicians frequently include elements of horrorcore, jazz, funk, lo-fi, hip-hop, trap, and other genres into their songs. The phonk style may be explored and varied thanks to this inclusion, which creates a fusion of sounds that gives music depth and individuality.

Lyrics and themes

Phonk music frequently depicts the grim reality of urban living, violence, drug culture, street life, and community difficulties through its lyrics and themes. The lyrics have a genuineness and rawness to them, occasionally hinting at revolt and gloom. To add an eerie and atmospheric layer to the lyrical content, phonk usually integrates motifs inspired by horror films and the gloomy atmospheres inside them.

Subgenres of phonk music

Brazilian phonk

Brazilian phonk is a subgenre merging the distinct sounds of phonk music with Brazilian musical influences. This subgenre often incorporates samples and elements from Brazilian funk, bossa nova, samba, or other traditional Brazilian music genres. This fusion results in a unique blend of the lo-fi, gritty qualities of phonk combined with the rhythmic and melodic elements characteristic of Brazilian music, creating a fresh and culturally diverse sound.

Phonk wave: a fusion of styles

Phonk wave is a subgenre that blends phonk with various other musical styles, such as vaporwave, chillwave, lo-fi, and hip-hop. Phonk wave involves experimenting with different soundscapes, incorporating nostalgic 80s and 90s vibes, and often exploring dreamy, surreal, or nostalgic atmospheres. Phonk Wave tends to embrace experimentation with production techniques and musical structures, resulting in an eclectic and diverse sonic landscape.

Cloud phonk: ethereal soundscapes

Cloud phonk is a subgenre of phonk music that emphasizes ethereal and dream-llike soundscapes. It often involves softer and more atmospheric elements compared with traditional phonk. Cloud phonk creates a relaxed, introspective mood by incorporating ambient textures, spacious melodies, and reverb-heavy beats, evoking a sense of floating or drifting within the music. This subgenre aims to create a more calming and contemplative listening experience within the broader context of the phonk style.

Welcome to TheDemoStop, now join the community!

Connect with artists, fans and producers around the world.

How to make phonk music

Choose the right sample

Choosing the right samples is essential when creating phonk music. Seek up samples of soul, funk, rap, or other genres that align with the gritty, nostalgic, and somber tone of phonk from the 1990s Memphis scene. These samples ought to feature recognizable singers, drum patterns, or melodies that can be altered to produce the right mood.

Master the art of chopping and screwing

By dividing samples into segments and adjusting the tempo, pitch, or speed, sounds can be manipulated by “chopping and screwing.” This method is essential for the creation of phonk music, often contributing to the slowed-down, distorted, and eerie qualities of recordings. Try several cutting techniques to achieve the right vibe and rhythm for your music.

Use heavy bass and drum beats

Incorporate deep, heavy baselines and punchy drum beats to establish the foundational rhythm of your phonk tracks. The bass should be prominent and add weight to the overall sound, whereas the drum patterns, often inspired by classic drum machines or sampled from old records, should be crisp and impactful.

Add atmospheric elements

To create the signature atmospheric vibe of phonk, include ambient textures, eerie sound effects, vinyl crackle, or other atmospheric elements. These additions contribute to the haunting and nostalgic feel of the music, enhancing the overall mood and depth of the tracks.

Experiment and develop your unique style

Do not be afraid to experiment with different sounds, effects, and production techniques to develop a unique style within the phonk genre. Embrace creativity, explore unconventional approaches, and let your personality shine through in your music. Developing a distinct style will set you and your music apart and contribute to the evolution of phonk music.

Reasons why phonk music is so popular

Unique sound and atmosphere

Phonk’s unique and alluring sound attributes are the reason for its appeal. A distinct and engrossing atmosphere is produced by the genre’s trademark mix of slow-down beats, eerie melodies, chopped and screwing samples, and gritty production. Listeners looking for a different, atmospheric hip-hop sound may find resonance in its nostalgic throwback to 90s Memphis rap.

Online community and global reach

The rise of online platforms and social media has considerably contributed to phonk music’s popularity. Artists and fans worldwide can easily connect, share, and discover phonk music through platforms such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and streaming services. This accessibility has facilitated the genre’s global reach, allowing it to transcend geographical boundaries and reach a diverse audience eager to explore new and niche musical styles.

Experimental and genre-blurring nature

Phonk’s willingness to blend various musical genres, experiment with production techniques, and constantly evolve has attracted a diverse audience. Its fusion with trap, lo-fi hip-hop, vaporwave, and other styles makes it appealing to listeners who appreciate genre-blurring music. This openness to experimentation keeps the genre fresh, innovative, and continuously evolving, drawing in listeners looking for unconventional and boundary-pushing sounds within the realm of hip hop.

Phonk music in popular culture

Risk of phonk music on social media platforms

Phonk music’s ominous and eerie themes can have a variety of psychological effects. Since the music is so immersive and emotive, some people may find it therapeutic or relevant, providing a means of processing feelings, while others may experience sorrow or uneasiness. In the end, listeners’ interpretations and reactions to these issues in phonk music are significantly influenced by personal experiences.

Collaboration with mainstream artists

Despite its underground roots, phonk music has caught the attention of mainstream artists. Collaborations between phonk producers and more well-known musicians have emerged, leading to a fusion of phonk elements with mainstream hip hop or other genres. These collaborations bring phonk’s unique sound and style to a broader audience, potentially influencing the mainstream music landscape and introducing new listeners to the genre.

Use in film and television soundtracks

Phonk music’s atmospheric and evocative qualities have attracted considerable attention in the films and television. Its dark, nostalgic, and often cinematic vibes make it suitable for enhancing certain scenes or creating specific moods in movies, TV shows, documentaries, or even video games. Phonk tracks or elements inspired by the genre have been incorporated into soundtracks, adding an unconventional and immersive dimension to visual storytelling.

Famous phonk songs

“Override” by KSLV

Override by KSLV is a phonk track that encapsulated the genre’s essence with its distinctive elements. The song incorporates chopped and screwed samples, a characteristic feature of phonk, often taken from 90s Memphis rap or soul music. KSLV’s “Override” likely maintains the genre’s dark, nostalgic, and lo-fi atmosphere, combining haunting melodies with slowed-down beats, creating an immersive and moody listening experience typical of phonk music.

Welcome to TheDemoStop, now join the community!

Connect with artists, fans and producers around the world.

“Avoid Me” by KUTE

Avoid me by KUTE is a phonk track that embodies the genre’s defining characteristics. It features chopped and screwed samples reminiscent of 90s Memphis rap or soul music, a hallmark of phonk. The song maintains a dark, atmospheric vibe with slowed-down beats, creating a gritty and nostalgic atmosphere typical of the phonk style. KUTE’s “Avoid Me” likely showcases the genre’s moody and haunting qualities, contributing to its appeal within the phonk music scene.

“Midnight” by PLAYAMANE and Nateki

Midnight by PLAYAMANE and Nateki is a phonk track that encapsulates the genre’s distinctive elements. The song incorporates chopped and screwed samples, often drawn from 90s Memphis rap or soul music, a defining characteristic of phonk. “Midnight” maintains the genre’s dark, nostalgic, and lo-fi atmosphere with its slowed-down beats, creating an immersive and moody sonic experience typical of phonk music. PLAYAMANE and Nateki’s collaboration embodies the haunting and atmospheric qualities that are characteristic of the phonk style, contributing to its allure within the phonk music community.

“Phonky Town” by PlayaPhonk

Phonky Town by PlayaPhonk is a phonk track that embodies the core elements of the genre. It features chopped and screwed samples reminiscent of 90s Memphis rap or soul music, a hallmark of phonk’s sound. The song maintains a dark, nostalgic, and lo-fi atmosphere, employing slowed-down beats to create an immersive and moody sonic landscape typical of phonk music. PlayaPhonk’s “Phonky Town” captures the genre’s eerie and atmospheric essence, contributing to its resonance within the phonk music scene.

“Cowbell Warrior” by SXMPRA

“Cowbell Warrior” by SXMPRA is a phonk track that likely embodies the genre’s defining characteristics. It maintains a dark, nostalgic, and lo-fi atmosphere with slowed-down beats to create a moody sonic landscape typical of phonk tracks. SXMPRA’s Cowbell Warrior captures the haunting and atmospheric qualities inherent in phonk, contributing to its allure within the phonk music scene.

Famous phonk artists

DJ Yung Vamp

DJ Yung Vamp is a prominent figure in the phonk music scene. He’s known for his skillful manipulation of samples, creating haunting and atmospheric beats that encapsulate the essence of phonk. Yung Vamp’s production often features chopped and screwed elements from 90s Memphis rap and soul music, characterized by their dark, lo-fi, and nostalgic vibes. His music has gained popularity within the phonk community and has contributed significantly to the genre’s evolution.

Soudiere

Soudiere is another notable artist within the phonk genre. His productions typically showcase a mastery of sampling techniques, infusing his tracks with eerie melodies and hypnotic rhythms. He’s recognized for his ability to create immersive and moody atmospheres by manipulating samples from old-school sources, delivering a sound that resonates with the core elements of phonk music.

Baker Ya Maker

Baker Ya Maker is an influential artist known for his contributions to the phonk scene. His music often combines chopped samples, distinct drum patterns, and hypnotic melodies, embracing the genre’s dark and nostalgic aesthetic. Baker Ya Maker’s tracks tend to evoke a haunting and immersive ambiance, demonstrating a unique approach to crafting phonk music that has garnered him a dedicated following within the genre.

Conclusion

What is phonk music? Phonk music is a subgenre of hip hop and trap and is characterized by its gritty, lo-fi production, chopped and screwed samples from 90s Memphis rap, slowed-down beats, dark and haunting atmosphere, and a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of that era.

Origins of phonk music: Phonk music originated in Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1990s, influenced by local hip-hop scenes and artists such as DJ SPanish Fly, Three 6 Mafia, and Tommy Wright III. These artists experimented with dark, eerie beats, chopped and screwed vocals, and samples from 90s Memphis rap, laying the foundation for the phonk genre.

Evolution of phonk music: Phonk music has evolved from its Memphis origins by embracing modern production techniques, blending with other genres like trap and lo-fi hip-hop, engaging a global online community, and incorporating diverse cultural influences. This evolution has expanded its sonic palette while maintaining its dark, atmospheric, and nostalgic elements.

Characteristics of phonk music

  • Tempo and rhythm
  • Use of samples and loops
  • Incorporation of various genres
  • Lyrics and themes

Welcome to TheDemoStop, now join the community!

Connect with artists, fans and producers around the world.

Subgenres of phonk music

  • Brazilian phonk
  • Phonk waves
  • Cloud phonk

How to make phonk music

  • Choose the right sample
  • Master the art of chopping and screwing
  • Use of heavy bass and drum beats
  • Add atmospheric elements
  • Experiment and develop your unique style

Reasons why phonk music is so popular

  • Unique sound and atmosphere
  • Online community and global reach
  • Experimental and genre-blurring nature

Phonk music in popular culture

  • Risk of phonk music on social media platforms
  • Collaboration with mainstream artists
  • Use in film and television soundtracks

Famous phonk songs

  • “Override” by KSLV
  • “Avoid Me” by KUTE
  • “Midnight” by PLAYAMANE and Nateki
  • “Phonky Town” by Playaphonk
  • “Cowbell Warrior” by SXMPRA

Famous phonk artists

  • DJ Yung Vamp
  • Soudiere
  • Baker Ya Maker

FAQs

What defines phonk music?

Phonk music is defined by its gritty, lo-fi production, chopped and screwed samples from 90s Memphis rap, slowed-down beats, dark atmospheres, and nostalgic vibes.

Where did phonk music originate?

Phonk music originated in Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1990s.

Is phonk music still popular today?

Yes, phonk music continues to maintain a dedicated fanbase and remains popular among listeners interested in its unique style and nostalgic vibes.

Who are some notable artists in the Phonk music scene?

Some notable artists in the phonk music scene include DJ Yung Vamp, Soudiere, Baker Ya Maker, and others who have contributed to shaping the genre.

What are the key characteristics of Phonk music?

The key characteristics of phonk music include gritty, lo-fi production, chopped and screwed samples from 90s Memphis rap, slowed-down beats, dark atmospheres, and a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of that era.

Where can I find and listen to Phonk music?

You can find and listen to phonk music online platforms such as SoundCloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, and streaming services like Spotify, where artists often upload their tracks and playlists dedicated to the phonk genre.

How has the Phonk music scene evolved over the years?

The phonk music scene has evolved by incorporating modern production techniques, blending with diverse genres, expanding its global reach through online platforms, and embracing a wider range of cultural influences while maintaining its signature dark, nostalgic, and atmospheric elements.

Related Articles