The producer and three rappers who worked on today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Tears of a Clown,” live miles away from one another: Pepperboy lives in Little Rock, Main Attrakionz’s Squadda B is from Oakland, Western Tink hails from Austin, and producer and Svengali collective member Soleman resides in Chicago. It’s these kinds of cross-regional collaborations that are part of the reason these MCs and plenty of others have been dubbed “Internet rappers,” as the net has given smaller rappers the tools to cultivate a brand outside of their physical communities and build relationships across lands that otherwise wouldn’t exist. But a term like “Internet rapper” comes across as condescending, because it not only suggests that anyone given the tag is disconnected from the scene around them, but can also be seen as an implication that the music created by a so-called Internet rapper is somehow inferior to, well, anything.
That’s hardly the case with “Tears of a Clown,” a doleful tune about being trapped in a crippling cycle of violence—it’s grounded in details that are ripped from the streets, and Soleman’s use of warped and layered vocal samples emphasizes the song’s wistful nature. (On another note, the song’s title is no doubt a reference to the Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ chart-topping tune of the same name.) “Tears of a Clown” is off Pepperboy and Squadda B’s brand new collaborative mixtape, Rebel Musik, which is available for free from Bandcamp.