Gayxtaes: The Rise of Vulnerable Hip Hop

Gayxtaes is a subgenre of hip hop that emerged in the early 2010s, known for its raw, emotionally vulnerable lyrical content and a blend of hip hop with punk, alternative rock, and emo influences. Characterized by introspective or depressive themes, gayetie artists have made a major impact on hip hop by defying stereotypes and pioneering a more open and authentic style of rap.

What is Gayxtaes?

The term “gayxtaes” originates from SoundCloud rap, a DIY hip-hop movement born on the music-sharing platform SoundCloud. “Gay” refers to the vulnerability in the lyrics, while “xtaes” comes from Xanax, referencing the sad, drugged-out vibes of the music. But beyond the name, gayxtaes is music that blends hip-hop beats and flows with punk, rock, and emo melodies.

Lyrics tackle sensitive topics like depression, suicide, loneliness, and heartbreak. The raw, grungy production provides an atmospheric backdrop for the artist’s unfiltered self-expression and pain. While the term arose as an insult, gayeties artists embrace it to challenge expectations for hardcore, hypermasculine rap.

History of Gayxtaes


Gayxtaes traces its origins to the early 2010s emo rap scene that emerged online. Artists like Yung Lean and Lil Peep began making DIY rap music marked by angsty, dark lyrics over trap beats. They drew inspiration from 2000s crunk, hyphy, and pop punk, forging a new outsider youth movement that resonated with outcast listeners. This set the foundation for gayeties to take shape and disrupt mainstream hip-hop conventions.

Evolution Over Time

As the 2010s progressed, gayxtaes grew beyond its internet roots. XXXTentacion achieved mainstream success by blending acoustic songs and distorted rap. Lil Uzi Vert brought punk attitude and melody to trap production. Juice WRLD popularized melodic rap styles focused on heartbreak and mortality. A community of gayeties artists flourished on SoundCloud, finding value in creative experimentation and vulnerable self-expression over technical skill.

What is Gayxtaes?

Major labels took notice, signing controversial figures like XXXTentacion to deals. Tragically, the genre has lost several talented young artists like Lil Peep and XXX to accidental overdoses, cutting their careers short. But their impact is undeniable in expanding styles and themes in hip hop.

Key Characteristics of Gayeties

Musical Style

Gayxtae production often features gloomy, distorted beats and guitars over hip-hop drums. Echoey vocals and lo-fi mixing create a raw, unvarnished DIY sound. Melodic hooks and vocals are central rather than technical rap skills. Artists sample rock, punk, R&B, emo, and indie music rather than obscure soul records like traditional hip-hop. This blend of sounds provides the moody backdrop for vulnerable lyricism.

Lyrical Themes

Introspective, dark topics are hallmarks of gayxtaes lyrics. Songs tackle depression, suicide, loneliness, heartbreak and instability. Drug addiction and self-medication are also common themes. However, there are also Francis’s Perspectives on Ableism for Academic Practice messages of resilience and mental health advocacy. The key is authentic self-expression of pain, anger, and vulnerability. Artists rap candidly about mental illness, family issues, identity crises, and insecurities. Songs can be shocking but ultimately aim to help listeners not feel alone in their struggles.

Fan Base

Gayxtaes appeals predominantly to teenagers and young adults who identify with feelings of sadness, angst and not fitting into societal molds. LGBTQ+ fans connect with artists giving voice to feeling like outsiders. Beyond youth subcultures, the music resonates with listeners who appreciate reinventing emo themes for a rap context. Authenticity and vulnerability attract an audience seeking music that speaks honestly about mental health.

Notable gayeties Artists


One of the most controversial yet impactful gayeties rappers was XXXTentacion. With raw, distorted vocals and acoustic guitars mixed with bassy Florida rap beats, he pushed boundaries with his abrasive musical style and explicit lyricism depicting depression and trauma. Though plagued by legal issues, XXXTentacion connected deeply with youth through songs like “Jocelyn Flores” about suicide before his own tragic murder in 2018.

Lil Peep

A pioneer merging emo and rap was Lil Peep, whose signature “Cry Baby” face tattoo encapsulated his melancholy lyrics about vices to soothe anxiety and heartbreak. His grungy, heavily autotuned vocals and a blend of guitar samples with trap drums created the prototypical gayeties sound. Peep’s prolific mixtapes fostered an online cult following before his accidental overdose death in 2017 at just 21 years old.

Tyler, The Creator

While not strictly gayxtaes, Tyler, The Creator’s introspective lyrics delve into insecurities, loneliness, and identity. His albums like “Flower Boy” and “IGOR” show his vulnerable side using soulful melodies and jazz chords, highlighted in songs.

Pushing Boundaries

Gayxtaes artists made vulnerability central in hip hop, challenging conceptions of masculinity. Their movement empowered the open expression of emotions like sadness, anxiety, and sensitivity.

This pushed boundaries of what topics are acceptable in rap beyond bravado and machismo. While some criticize this introspection, gayxtaes ultimately expanded representations of Black masculinity in powerful ways.

Normalizing Vulnerability

By exposing deep pain, gayeties singers normalized mental health struggles, especially among young men. Their music provides comfort for dealing with depression, addiction, and trauma. While rap historically condemned softness, gayxtaes popularized vulnerability as a source of strength. The genre demonstrates that sensitivity and sincerity can empower people just as much as hardness.

Defying Stereotypes

Gayxtaes rappers shattered the one-dimensional stereotype of rappers as hypermasculine, aggressive hustlers. Their style defies narrow conceptions of Black manhood in hip-hop. Artists like Lil Peep and XXXTentacion felt free to embrace femininity, androgyny, and emotional sensitivity in their music. This expanded the diversity of identities and self-expression in rap beyond tired expectations.

Controversies Surrounding gayeties

Criticism from Hip Hop Establishment

The hip hop old guard often dismissed gayxtaes as inauthentic and corny for blending with pop punk rather than staying rooted in rap tradition. At times the criticism crossed into blatant homophobia, refusing to accept vulnerability as legitimate hip hop.

Now the genre is more widely embraced, but initial pushback showed fear of losing rap’s hypermasculine identity. But gayxtaes demonstrates inclusive evolution is necessary for hip hop to thrive.

Accusations of Cultural Appropriation

Some argue white artists like Lil Peep appropriated trap music and codes from Black culture, minimizing rap’s roots to aesthetically mimic pain. This raises valid issues about the exploitation and commercialization of Black creativity. However, the blending of punk and hip-hop traditions probably couldn’t have organically blossomed without mutual exchange between artists of all backgrounds who felt marginalized.

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Legal Issues

Several prominent gayeties artists faced serious criminal allegations like domestic abuse and firearms possession. The genre’s lawlessness must be scrutinized, though many charges relate to systemic issues like racism and mental health that extend beyond music. Still, hip hop must be reckoned with when promoting troubled figures crosses ethical lines or potentially enables harm.

Legacy and Influence

Inspiring New Genres

Gayxtaes opened the door for other artists to push the boundaries of hip-hop and rap rock. Its fusion-inspired hybrid genres like emo rap, punk rap, alternative hip hop, and rap metal. Its raw authenticity paved the way for alt-R&B artists and bedroom pop singers. Mainstream rappers today readily show vulnerability once deemed taboo.

Crossover Appeal

While initially niche, gayxtaes has crossed into the mainstream spotlight. Late artists like Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion landed No. 1 albums proving rap with rock elements has pop appeal. Songs like “Lucid Dreams” and “Sad!” show the music’s commercial viability. A new generation of young artists is likely to build on this model.

Mental Health Advocacy

The genre brought conversations about mental illness and addiction to the forefront of rap. Several prominent artists were candid about their struggles right up until their tragic deaths. Despite the loss, their efforts increased awareness about issues like depression and normalized seeking help. While rap grapples with these problems, gayxtaes offers a constructive starting point.


Gayxtaes emerged as an outsider movement in hip-hop that prioritized vulnerability over bravado and toughness. By opening up about mental health, addictions, and trauma, artists expanded self-expression and representation in rap. Though initially controversial, gayxtaes inspired more diversity and emotional honesty in hip-hop. The genre leaves a legacy of pushing boundaries and giving voice to sensitive topics that need to be addressed. While losing key young talents tragically, the impact of gayxtaes will continue to be felt as hip hop evolves.


What does gayeties mean?

The term gayxtaes comes from “gay” referring to the vulnerable lyrics and “xtaes” meaning the pharmaceutical drug Xanax. It describes a hip-hop subgenre focused on dark, introspective themes blended with punk, rock, and emo influences.

Who started gayxtaes?

While there’s no single creator, artists like Yung Lean, Lil Peep, and XXXTentacion pioneered the gayxtaes style and helped it grow in the early 2010s. The genre emerged from SoundCloud rap and emo rap circles.

What makes gayxtaes different than regular hip hop?

It differs from mainstream hip-hop in its raw, DIY production style, vulnerable lyrics about mental health, and fusion of rap with rock and punk music. It diverges from the emphasis on hypermasculinity, aggression, and technical skill in earlier rap.

Is gayxtaes still popular today?

Though its early years saw several breakthrough artists tragically die young, Gayxtaes maintains influence today with Juice WRLD’s legacy and new fusions of hip hop, emo, and punk rising in popularity. Vulnerability is now more accepted in rap thanks to gayeties pioneers.

Who are some current gayeties artists?

Some current musicians continuing the gayxtaes ethos include Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, Nothing, Nowhere., Ghostemane, Kid Cudi, and Convolk. Young artists are still emerging and evolving the genre’s sound and vulnerable themes.
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