By Kai Hellberg
Big news from Soundcloud. The Stockholm company’s executives have just changed the terms of service for its rappers. If an artist with more than 25k followers wishes to remain in the “rap” category on the site, they must pass a Royal Conservatory of Music piano exam to prove their worth.
“Piano music is the foundation of the rap genre,” CEO Kerry Trainor said, “so it’s only fair that our rappers represent our brand by showcasing their prowess and virtuosity.”
The exams will include sight-reading and hearing exercises, all leading up to a final performance of an RCM grade 11 (or higher) piece lasting longer than three minutes. Any rapper who fails the exam will have to take a follow-up two months later but will forfeit their “Soundcloud rapper” status until then.
Following the news, the site’s biggest names are already practicing for their exams. Lil Pump, for instance, has prepared his performance of Chopin’s Op. 10 No. 3 Etude in E Major, known as “Tristesse.”
“Chopin’s pieces really speak to me and I think this one has the perfect balance of beauty and legato,” he said.
Other rappers will try to take a more impressive, and possibly hubristic, approach to their exams to try and wow their critics. Trippie Redd announced that he will attempt to play an excerpt from Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” in B-flat Major.
“Showcasing a mastery of classical music’s most difficult piano pieces is the only way I’ll be able to climb up the charts,” he said. “If my performance doesn’t blow them away, I can’t continue to call myself a rapper.”
But there are worries for one person in particular; Chance The Rapper. The Chicago-based phenom is concerned that his current interpretation of Bach’s Partita in E, BWV 1006 (trans. Rachmaninoff) is not up to par.
“Rachmaninoff transcribed this piece to have a smoothness that I haven’t achieved yet,” he said. “Hopefully I can loosen up my scales a bit before my exam comes up.”
Judged by pianists Simone Dinnerstein, Evgeny Kissin and Lang Lang, the exams will take place mid September. Stay hopeful that your Soundcloud favorites will master their pieces in time.