“I wanted to create timeless music and timeless music creates a cult community.”
In 2012 hip hop experienced a seismic shift and it came from a new type of underground. The term SoundCloud Rapper has mutated and distorted since it was first coined approximately six years ago, but the influence the platform has had on not only rap music but also mainstream culture cannot be understated. There have been pieces written about ‘SoundCloud Rap’ in publications as varied as The New York Times and Pitchfork, and some artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Denzel Curry have gone from a couple of hundred followers to being on the Billboard charts and the cover of magazines.
The dawn of the Age of SoundCloud changed what it meant to be an independent artist. Suddenly creators on the fringes, musicians who didn’t live in epicentres like LA, London, New York or Berlin, were finding an audience. All you needed was a mic, a beat and some basic software. YouTube tutorials replaced a formal studio education and the potential for viral success was one upload away. Back then, 12 hours of new music was uploaded to the site every minute.
Night Lovell first downloaded Fruity Loops in the summer of 2013. A year later, in his mid-teens at the time, the Ottawa artist released ‘Dark Light’, the earliest track of his on SoundCloud. It’s a song he produced as well as rapped over, which has since racked up a tidy 18.3 million listens.
There’s something more macabre, almost sinister, about Lovell’s music in comparison to the slew of other artists who found success on SoundCloud. It’s what has set him apart from the pack and helped build his cult following of fans from Moscow back to Ontario.
An interview on the influential modern rap podcast No Jumper in 2016 was one of the first big milestones for Lovell. On the episode he discussed the fact that he still had reservations about how much hype was really surrounding him. Since then he’s racked up dozens of co-signs from rap media’s most respected gatekeepers, as well as millions of listens. There can be no more doubts.
“It’s something I never thought would be a real thing,” he tells me in a photography studio along Dublin’s River Liffey.
“It was always this fantasy. Personally, I feel like I’ve been doing good adjusting to it, I think I’m made for it.”
His latest record ‘GOODNIGHT LOVELL’ arrived in early 2019 and features collaborations with $UICIDEBOY$ and Lil West. The album is by far Lovell’s most cohesive project to-date. Previous mixtapes and albums gave a glimpse into his work as a musician, but with ‘GOODNIGHT LOVELL’ we’re seeing a young artist find his feet. It’s a concept album, exploring the parallels between dreams and nightmares. The bad and the good in life.
“I remember at one point I was thinking of doing a self-titled album, but I wanted to do it in a cool way. So, it still is a self-titled album, but a play on words with my name with ‘GOODNIGHT LOVELL’ , because I make music at night time too.”
“I feel like the most pivotal moment has been not the album dropping, but the roll out of the album that happened afterwards. That’s when it really starting gaining traction. Before that I dropped a song here or there, but when the album dropped it was consistent attention. Now there’s stuff coming from all directions all the time.”
Lovell has described this work as his “most mature” yet, however he still has trouble deciding when to let go and release it to the world.