The way we consume music is ever-changing, becoming easier and quicker as the days go by. Snippets, despite their small size, have become a vital piece of an artist’s marketing process and one of the most complicated mediums to follow as a fan. This is a look into snippet culture and how it’s both helped and hurt every party involved.
Snippets. 15 to 30 seconds of fluctuating emotions, and if you’re lucky a full minute and some change. The joy of hearing new music from an artist forms quickly, but the torment of waiting for it to drop can last forever.
Young Nudy is being heralded as a breakout artist of the year thanks to his newest project with producer Pierre Bourne, Sli’merre. One of the album’s standout tracks, “Extendo,” was a mere snippet months ago on IG Live. That fact holds true for almost half of Sli’merre’s 12 tracks, including “Dispatch,” “Gas Station,” “Long Ride” (“Long Time”), and “Black Hippie, White Hipster” (“Rackages”).
Enjoying these snippets mean living in a pretend world where songs give the illusion of being something more than an arousing clip of sound. These snippets are not real songs or supposed to earn thousands of views on Youtube. They’re quick hits to the senses; not a full appetizer, but more than just a glance at the menu. Somehow, the lack of tangible flavor doesn’t stop fans from tightly gripping their forks and knives at the dinner table.
“Rackages” the snippet is riddled with fuzzy audio and Nudy’s real-life outbursts — and “Rackages” is still one of the better snippets in Young Nudy’s expanding corner of the Internet from a quality perspective. Despite snippets’ countless distractions and audio deficiencies, music hungry fans continue gorging their ears every 30 seconds. Snippet hunter-gatherers persevere.
Game of Snippets: Music Promo and Album Rollouts
Snippet culture has become a game. Some artists meticulously siphon snippets to the general public to measure fan interest and help dictate album singles and their subsequent rollout; sometimes there’s nothing to it at all except a memorable moment like a $500 Kanye snippet or a snippet of Kid Cudi hums; and sometimes those snippets are flashbangs of clout, forcing the artist to show their full hand to capture the light while it still shines. The snippet wasn’t always this important, but now it has arguably replaced the single as the biggest cog in hip-hop’s hype machine.
Lil Uzi Vert went viral in June of 2018 with a video of himself dancing behind then-unheard “New Patek” on Instagram. Uzi officially released the song three months later and it’s presumed to be the first single for his eventual album, Eternal Atake. He’s dropped three songs since, and New Patek still has more views (54 million) on Uzi’s official YouTube page than all three songs combined (29 million).
The list goes on. Megan Thee Stallion played a snippet of her newly released single “Realer” a year ago on her Instagram Live, back when she only had around 100 people tuning in. She even dedicated a snippet hotline for fans to listen to a few seconds of her single “Sex Talk” back in March.
An early snippet video of Kodak Black and Travis Scott dancing to the tropical instrumental of what would later be released as “ZeZe”, and the clip became an instant viral moment. “ZeZe” debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 off the strength of that viral moment. Recently, Tyler the Creator’s rollout for his newest album IGOR was nothing more than high-quality snippets.
The rise of snippet-dedicated apps like TikTok and Triller has only cemented snippets as a viable marketing strategy. Chance the Rapper shared a snippet of his newest track with TisaKorean, “GRoCERIES”, on Instagram before using the Triller app to drive hype around the song. TikTok specifically has helped artists rise up the charts with quick, 15-second clips of teens and adults finding new and interesting ways to make songs go viral. Rappers like Callboy, Blueface, and Lil Nas X have benefitted from the app, turning their snippets into instant hits.
Before Megan Thee Stallion’s “Sex Talk” was featured on a snippet hotline, it was a snippet back in 2018:
— BadGyal🏝 (@FentyLovale) November 29, 2018
Snippets are generally beneficial to everyone involved –– artists can accrue early hype, fan feedback and national acclaim for a song at any part of the creation process, and dedicated fans earn special sneak peeks of music by simply paying attention. That doesn’t mean the medium is devoid of convolution and annoyance.
Announcements can easily impersonate loosies and snippets. ScHoolboy Q announced “Numb Numb Juice” on his Instagram while pieces of the track were previewed in the background. “2morrow nigHt we back at it,” the LA rapper captioned under his post–and he delivered two days later. There was no announcement or time frame on Meg’s “Realer” snippet; she was just having fun on IG with her fans, who had to wait a full year to hear the real thing on her new project Fever. Hot Girl Meg fans are lucky because no snippet is guaranteed.
For Carti Fans, Patience is a Stummy
No one knows the pain and impatience born from snippets like Playboi Carti fans. Carti may own the greatest snippet in rap history. “Cancun” (also known as “My Stummy Hurt”, “Walk Around”, and “Bills”) is Carti at his best, delivering a simple yet infectious (and borderline goofy) hook with his signature baby-voice behind a spacey, bass-heavy beat that induce mosh pits at the drop of a slatt.
The legendary snippet has taken on a life of its own –– a Minecraft remix that focuses on mining and crafting instead of abdominal pain, another remix that removes the beat and hilariously mimics Carti’s ad-libs and inflection, impeccable dancing from Skepta in the (official?) video, and a running joke that “Cancun” may be nothing more than what already exists or, even worse, will never actually release on an official project. The song has garnered thousands of plays on Soundcloud and Youtube since it first emerged on Instagram a year ago.
Carti sees the hype surrounding it and has taken the snippet on tour, performing it at Rolling Loud and on his Die Lit tour but refusing to share any information on the track. This could mean a longer version is in the works or what he’s presented is that version; “Cancun” stalkers can only wait and wonder until that day comes.
That’s the slippery slope with leaning on snippets from a fan’s point of view.
I should drop it dis week pic.twitter.com/3mFtzUw3QS
— Valee (@valee) August 26, 2018
Artists have every right to record, tease, and release what they want how they want. “Cancun” is likely to end up on Playboi Carti’s next album Whole Lotta Red, which is projected to drop sometime this year, but it could also be a puzzle piece on a much bigger picture for Carti, something that’s further down the line than Whole Lotta Red.
All Is Fair in Sounds and Snippets
The artist’s right to drip-feed and withhold heat won’t stop the snippet culture from creating Reddit and YouTube communities and conspiracies. All of us just sit around a dimly lit, snippet-fueled campfire, telling stories of a possible location of a full HQ version, a release date, and even a name to type into Google for these hot commodities until our needs are satisfied.
In some cases, the campfire comes to burn the artists when these snippets arrive as leaks instead of official releases. Young Nudy and Playboi Carti’s “Kid Cudi” was a snippet for months before it eventually leaked last month. Carti’s friend Gunner Stahl called out Carti’s leakers on Twitter soon afterward.
If niggas put in the energy they do to leak Carti music we’d have the cure to cancer world hunger and aids by now
— ✞ (@GUNNERSELLWHITE) April 19, 2019
Artists and labels try their best to scrub unwanted leaks and snippets that surface on the Internet. But a scientific law of the Internet is nothing ever really gets deleted, and those snippets quickly regenerate for new fans to discover and old fans to continue salivating over. Reddit and Youtube have been vital in keeping snippets alive.
In May, Chance the Rapper tweeted a snippet of unreleased music titled “JWD Intro” with Kanye West on Twitter before ultimately deleting the tweet, but the video has managed to live on through Reddit backchannels. “Cancun” is getting eradicated slowly across Youtube and Soundcloud. But snippets get deleted every day, B. Nothing will stop labels from cleaning the web with dirty snippets when they’ve overstayed their welcome, or listeners from throwing that same dirty laundry back on the floor.
It all starts with a click of a stream, a simple screen recording, and a subsequent re-post across the Internet’s boundless bulletin board. Those three simple steps can create hype, speculation, and, in some cases, chart-topping hits. Fans won’t stop chasing that first euphoric high of hearing an unreleased bit of music, and artists from all spaces will continue to use snippets, sprinkling them around social media fields like seeds to a farmer, hoping to plant excitement and restlessness among the fans who just can’t get enough.