Image from Melo Makes Music's Facebook page
Melo Makes Music
Last month Genius chief content officer Brendan Frederick spotted something funny in Soundcloud's streaming rankings
. "Love that all the millennial Hot Topic rappers tag their songs as 'Alternative Rock' on Soundcloud," he posted to Twitter, including a screenshot of the top 11 slots on Soundcloud's alternative-rock chart—every one of them filled by a rapper. I can't get behind the use of "Hot Topic" to describe someone's music, but I've seen the same thing—young MCs, among them Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Peep
, are making melodic, sometimes lo-fi songs that bear the influence of 1990s/2000s pop-punk and emo and then uploading them as "alternative rock." Using that Soundcloud tag is as much a playful way to ruffle the feathers of traditionalists as it is a serious claim on reshaping hip-hop's future. Chicago rapper Carmelo Cianflone, aka Melo Makes Music, is among the up-and-comers calling themselves "alternative rock" on Soundcloud—in a December interview with hip-hop podcast Chicago Sleepers
, he mentions that when he was a kid his mom provided him with a steady diet of the Cure and Nine Inch Nails.
Yesterday Cianflone released the single "Sleepless," with a weightless instrumental by rapper-producer Martin Sky
and a guest verse from Taylor Bennett
. Cianflone's rap-singing blurs the lines separating hip-hop, pop, and alt-rock—he sometimes breaks into an anguished yelp that sounds almost like Nirvana or Alice in Chains. The song reminded me of a recent A.V. Club oral history of Chicago's 90s alt-rock
, specifically the bit where band manager Wes Kidd describes first hearing Local H's "Bound for the Floor" on the radio: "It sounded immediately like [something I’d known for a long time]." In much the same way, the first time I listened to "Sleepless," I felt like I knew all its subtle shifts in advance.