For the YouTube fiends out there, you know that stagnation has become as synonymous with the platform as Google and Clickbait. In the wake of what’s known as the recent “adpocalypse” (aka the demonetization of any content that isn’t PG), professional content creators are disillusioned with investing their time in a medium with decreased earning potential. While there are plenty of living case studies on how to fizzle out, U.K. rapper Scarlxrd (scar-lord) is an example of how to keep propelling yourself forward. From uploading hallmarks of OG YouTube like the cinnamon challenge to dropping sharp visuals illuminating his lifelong love of music, the 23-year-old is earning a top spot in internet youth culture. Yet, his secret to artistic integrity seems to be refraining from fulfilling the trite role of keyboard preacher in which many content creators sink. Instead, running towards what feels right and away from incestual local scenes has birthed a signature style of utmost intensity.
Before black masks and Google AdSense there was just a young man named Marius Listhrop. More so following a passion than chasing a dream, the Wolverhampton teen began posting lighthearted content under the name TheMazziMaz. Being that his channel was an ode to lighthearted hijinks, Listhrop demonstrated a knee-jerk reaction to draw back as YouTube started becoming bigger than itself. He repelled from fellow creators who found that being scandal-prone yielded more clicks than creating the products of labor and love. Perhaps most notably, Listhrop spoke out against prank star Sam Pepper after he made a video depicting himself pinching unsuspecting women’s butts, which quickly turned into an alleged “social experiment” as backlash intensified. While YouTube taught the rapper important lessons about snakes creeping into the alternative entertainment industry, his early dabbling into music creation proves that he is capable of much more than, well, choking on a spoonful of cinnamon.
Starting around 2015, Listhrop began performing as frontman with alt rock quartet, Myth City. Earning a cult following online, tracks like “The Vendetta” showcase the groove and grace that would later become the glue of Scarlxrd’s vocal delivery. Reading like a hardcore unit at times, Myth City also foreshadowed Scarlxrd’s potential to scrub clean singing from where it’s traditionally been dealt. While other rappers with user-generated come-ups have tended to use the formula of Bone Thugs and Tripp Pants, Listhrop elicits a futuristic view of punk, projecting a post-apocalyptic brutality into both sound and aesthetic. While Myth City saw moderate success, Listhrop’s vision would reach its full potential working as a solo artist. And so, the industrial alien Scarlxrd was beamed down—back from the future just in time to teach us all a thing or two about the future of fusion genres.
In a recent interview with Noisey, Listhrop offers a glimpse into his solitary life as Scarlxrd, as well as his entity’s self-described shriek. Finding inspiration in four walls and the grind of chair legs being pulled across a bare floor, Scarlxrd embraces the internet’s simultaneous potential for anonymity and viralability. The rapper rebels against the advice of the underground’s old heads. Instead of embarking on countless collabs and fitting his square peg into the round hole of U.K. hip-hop, Scarlxrd does it his way. The product? A voice that’s unapologetically his own—a blend of impossibly fast delivery overlaid with screams from the visceral depths. Not one to just rest on a fire beat, experimentation is pushed to the outer limits, which is earning his videos sightings in the cool eight figures. While other former YouTubers fumble in their longing for the glory years, Scarlxrd presents us with an artform not yet understood in our time.