As more and more of the global population comes of age online, the distinction between URL and IRL becomes increasingly hazy. We live in a world of open-source subcultures, where the hyper-local and the hyper-specific never stay that way for long. In Season I of our popular mini-documentary series H?SHTAG$, we looked at the most fascinating micro-genres emerging from the digital ether, from #tumblrwave to #cloudrap. Now, we’re focusing on what happens after a home brewed music scene or movement becomes a global phenomenon. Who’s left standing once a trend has hit peak hype?

On H?SHTAG$ – Season II, we travel to the source of four niche scenes that exploded over the past few years – gqom, health goth, kawaii and grime – to see what’s happened since you last paid attention and where they’re going next.

See below for full episode synopses and tune in to watch them on Red Bull TV here:



From the streets of Durban to the hard drives of Europe’s dance music vanguard via WhatsApp: these are the coordinates that map out the journey of South Africa’s recent club craze, gqom. The brash, lo-fi sound arose within local township communities and hasn’t strayed far from its roots, even while finding its way digitally into the playlists of DJs and listeners the world over. In this episode of Hashtags, we travel to Durban to explore the connections between gqom’s local origins and its shot at global success with South African producers Citizen Boy, Emo-Kid, DJ Lusiman, DJ Lag, Distruction Boyz, Illumination Boiz, Massive Q of RudeBoyz and Okzharp, as well as European DJs and label heads Nan Kolè (Gqom Oh!), Moleskin (Goon Club Allstars) and Joe Howard (Cotch International).


Many have claimed that #HealthGoth is dead, but true believers still remain. The owner of the domain, Johnny “Deathface” Love, and his disciples position Health Goth as a lifestyle, not a trend: a subculture that draws equally from a fascination with dark music and a commitment to working out. Chris Cantino and Jeremy Scott of Magic Fades and Mike Grabarek – a Portland-based trio of artists that runs the Health Goth Facebook page – meanwhile look to detach the term from any gym setting, anchoring the health goth aesthetic in a theoretical field inspired by academic discussions around the fetishization of mass production and synthetic materials. No matter how you feel about health goth, there’s no denying its influence on mainstream culture. Suit up in style as we attempt to get to the bottom of this contested phenomenon.


Kawaii has been an integral part of Japanese culture since at least the 1970s, but this unique amalgam of the cute, the naive, the emotional, kittens, comics and candy has more recently found its way from the Japanese mainstream into the global underground, where a new generation of producers, DJs and artists is incorporating elements of kawaii culture into their own creative output. We caught up with an international cast to chart the global rise of kawaii in the age of the hashtag, including American label heads Meishi Smile (Zoom Lens), Eddie Lehecka (Attack the Music) and Ben Aqua (#FEELINGS), Tokyo-based group LLLL, Filipino producer Moon Mask and journalists Vivian Host AKA Star Eyes and Adam Harper.


Each time that grime seems to have died off, it just comes raging back. Although the genre’s roots lie firmly in early ’00s Britain, predating the internet era, it has evolved into a global force both IRL and URL over the past couple of years. In this episode of H?SHTAG$, we examine the mechanisms at play in grime’s rise in other corners of the world with Wiki and Sporting Life of NYC hip-hop outfit Ratking, Kingdom, the man behind Los Angeles’s Fade To Mind label, Lit City Trax founder J-Cush, Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins of Complex and Amsterdam’s Grimeyard, as well as UK pioneers Rapid of Ruff Sqwad, Mista Jam and Sir Spyro, and journalists Hattie Collins and Annie Mac.

About Red Bull Music Academy

The Red Bull Music Academy is a global music institution committed to fostering creativity in music. We celebrate music, its culture, and the transformative minds behind it. Begun in 1998, the Academy has taken the core principles that underlie its annual workshop for selected participants and applied this curatorial approach to events, lectures, and city-wide festivals throughout the year.

The Red Bull Music Academy is already an established institution in South Africa, having helped to foster the creative development of globally recognized artists like Black Coffee, Jullian Gomes and Culoe De Song.

More than 1,500 musical luminaries have participated in past incarnations of the Red Bull Music Academy. Former lecturers include Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Erykah Badu, Ryuichi Sakamoto, D’Angelo, George Clinton, Nile Rodgers, Frankie Knuckles, Giorgio Moroder, Questlove, Steven O’Malley, Rakim, RZA, Steve Reich, M.I.A., and pioneering synth inventors Bob Moog, Tom Oberheim, Don Buchla, Roger Linn, Dave Smith, amongst many others. Plenty Academy alumni have gone on to become true figureheads of their scenes like LA soul singer Aloe Blacc (“I Need A Dollar”); experimental electronic music producer and beat music innovator Flying Lotus; Hudson Mohawke, the Scottish producer behind the beats of Drake and Kanye West; and UK singer Katy B, who championed the sound of London’s dubstep, funky and garage. Other notable alumni include Nina Kraviz, Jamie Woon, TOKiMONSTA, Jackmaster, Andreya Triana, Axel Boman, Evian Christ, Deradoorian, Objekt, Onra, and Krystal Klear.

The Red Bull Music Academy has been pairing music legends and emerging beatsmiths since 1998 in cities such as Berlin, Cape Town, Melbourne, Barcelona, Rome, São Paulo, London, Tokyo and New York City. This unique combination of old school knowledge and new school sounds is unrivalled for its creative exploration and achievement. Each Academy edition leaves behind structures to encourage musical collaboration and creative exchange for years to come. Currently there are twelve fully equipped Red Bull Studios around the world.

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