Some musical styles announce themselves simply by their title. Yacht Rock. Heavy Metal. Soft Jazz. This self-identifying moniker certainly holds true for Scam Rap, an emerging facet of the Rap genre that is bridging the gap between music and technology in a way that neither sector has encountered.

While the genre of Scam Rap sounds like the stuff of make-believe, it’s in fact a powerful tool that those rap artists connected to the Dark Web, hacking, and other more nefarious uses of coding and tech development are leveraging to essentially create blueprints for how to create elaborate digital scams on some of the world’s most influential platforms like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

So, while the stakes may appear low, there’s actually significant tension with the emergence of Scam Rap and its ramifications on the tech industry. With this in mind, let’s define Scam Rap, spotlight a couple of its more prominent artists, and examine what this music means for today’s tech up-and-comers.

Scam Rap Defined

As with nearly all popular music styles, Scam Rap was born out of regionality or a specific place and time. Widely accepted to have its beginnings in Detroit, Michigan, Scam Rap is a fertile breeding ground for some of the genre’s most successful artists. While the style has of course seen popularity on a coast-to-coast level, Detroit remains ground zero for the style.

In terms of the musical components of the style, there are several core principles that define the style of Scam Rap and differentiate it from other sub-styles of the rap genre. A recent article in Screen Shot outlined what typifies Scam Rap in terms of the sonic landscape and lyrical content:

“Though not exclusive to Detroit, the city’s scam rap can be differentiated from the rest with its off-beat flow and rap style…[the] rap style lies somewhere between frenzy and monotone to create feverish energy that eventually matches the anxiety-ridden sentiments of the scamming lifestyle they allegedly live in.”

On a thematic level, Scam Rap is rooted in narratives around credit card frauds, identity thefts, and other illicit ways in which people are scammed out of their money, whether that be in the real-world or digital (think crypto) space.

Introducing Teejayx6

Just as you can’t accurately and adequately discuss rock and roll without a hefty exploration of The Beatles and their place in the genre, one cannot examine Scam Rap without looking at the beginnings, career, and influence of Teejayx6, who is widely considered to be one of the founders of the genre and its biggest star.

Teejayx6 emerged from the Detroit Scam Rap scene in the late 2010s and quickly left his mark as the primary accelerator of the genre. He released his first album in 2019 and his first major hit also came that year with the release of the track Dark Web, which featured lyrics and themes that combined identity theft and scamming and using this information in a malicious way on the dark web.

His 2019 debut album, Under Pressure, also featured a number of tracks where the titles themselves are a clear indicator as to the content of the songs. Tracks like Swipe Story and the subsequent single Blackmail also serve to further the mission of Scam Rap, which essentially seeks to glorify and propagate digital scamming as a way to disrupt the normality of digital economics or e-commerce.

A large part of what makes Teejayx6 such a force in the Scam Rap scene is the theatrics and pageantry that he has created. Everything from staged arrests by the United States Federal Marshals to frenetic demonstrations as part of the Black Lives Matter movement have fanned the flames of his fame.

Scam Rap Meets the Dark Web

OK, you may be thinking: What’s the big deal here? Rap artists are creating songs about digital scamming and other methods of digital and real-world currency and identity theft? So what? These are fair questions to ask, but as with anything in today’s tech world there is often more beneath the surface compared with what floats to the top.

The Dark Web (also known as the Deep Web) is more or less a hidden collection of internet sites that are only accessible by highly-specialized web browsers that are designed to conceal where these sites live and how to access them. While often used for keeping internet activity private, which can be help for perfectly legal purposes, the ability to conceal sites and activity also comes with an illicit side. Some users leverage the Dark Web to avoid government censorship, while others deploy this element of the internet for illegal activity, such as identity theft and more.

The positive uses of the Dark Web include concealing in-progress content such as blog posts or websites from vulnerability due to hackers. In addition, other use cases include protecting private or sensitive information such as:

  • Financial accounts
  • Email and messaging clients
  • HIPPA information
  • Legal files

The danger with Scam Rap is that it functions as a platform to educate potentially nefarious actors on how to hack, access, alter, or distribute these kinds of sensitive information for personal financial gain or to disrupt the normality of real-world workflows and processes.

A recent article in Kaspersky detailed the dangers of Scam Rap as essentially an advertising agent for disruption and corruption:

“The reputation of the dark web has often been linked to criminal intent or illegal content, and ‘trading’ sites where users can purchase illicit goods or services…when it comes to dark web safety, the deep web dangers are very different from dark web dangers. Illegal cyber activity cannot necessarily be stumbled upon easily but tends to be much more extreme and threatening if you do seek it out.”

What does this mean for today’s rising coding and technology professionals? Whereas technology more often than not drives art, we now have a context where technology needs to remain one step ahead of the art as the popularity of Scam Rap continues to grow. It’s no secret that the Rap genre in general is a massive mover in today’s pop-culture landscape, and as long as that is the case and Scam Rap remains a pivotal element of the genre, the technology world will require talented, dedicated coding professionals to create the protections and safeguards necessary to keep the power of Scam Rap at bay.

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