By Aidan Morales

Not funk, but phonk-characterized by 1990s Memphis sound, cowbells and a recent association with drift and JDM culture-phonk is an increasingly popular combination of hip hop and trap music that has dominated SoundCloud, Youtube, and Spotify. Mostly made popular by Gen Z, one could assume that the recent association with driving and car culture has been pioneered by members of this generation getting their license and getting into car culture for the first time as a driver. Once a genre tried to Memphis and Houston, phonk turned into a regionless genre as soon as it spread across the internet and streaming platforms. The genre turned streetworthy for it’s gritty, dark and fast beat straight from its predecessor of “chopped and screwed”, which is a genre defined by remixes.

The Russian drift scene in 2017 also found an interest in the genre, setting the foundation for a sub-genre known as drift phonk. The beats tend to be fast and random in terms of intervals, making the anticipation and suspense of the sound mix perfectly with the feeling of drifting and street racing. Cowbells, extreme bass, and distortion makes the lyrics almost entirely unrecognizable, which allows the songs to transcend language and appeal to car enthusiasts from around the world.

Here are some top picks:

  • “Close Eyes” by DVRST
  • “WAVE” by Phonk Killer
  • “End of the World by FORGOTTENAGE
  • “Phonk Save the World” by Hikki Gaya
  • “Japan” by Tokyomane
  • “Devotion” by OGNEYAR