10 Times Whispering In Rap Songs Unintentionally Created an ASMR Experience

Ying Yang Twins
Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Ying Yang Twins make an appearance on MTV's straight up hip hop all week on April 26, 2005 in New York City. 

From chomping on pickles into a microphone to faintly purring positive affirmations, the satisfaction that ASMR (or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) gives is rapidly becoming more ubiquitous due to its calming and often stress-reducing factors. And as with many things that gain popularity, ASMR has transformed into a pop culture phenomenon, with many celebrities trying to mimic its various popular triggers -- which include scratching on different objects, quickly tapping one's fingernails and blowing into someone's ear.

But whispering has turned into one of the more recognizable triggers attributed to the experience, with popular YouTubers and artists like Cardi B and Janet Jackson giving it more visibility. There’s been a few artists over the years -- specifically rappers, interestingly enough -- who have traded in aggressive vocals for lullaby-esque whispers on songs. These susurrations may not have been specifically targeting ASMR lovers (especially since several were released before the term was made official in 2010), but they can definitely spark some hair-raising experiences or “brain orgasms.”

While ASMR is taken seriously as a relaxing experience and doesn’t always include whispering, it’s definitely fun to hear these rappers spit ever so softly over the most intense beats. So here is a roundup of rap songs, from Vanilla Ice to 21 Savage, that could also double as ASMR-worthy euphoria.

1. Vanilla Ice, “Ice Ice Baby” (1989)

Laid over a sample of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” the magic of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” is all in the chorus. Derived from Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha’s signature and boisterous “Ice Cold” chant, the whispered chorus leaves you with chills that mimics the frost in the rapper’s name. Before ASMR was even coined as an actual term, Vanilla Ice’s sensory triggers had an impact: “Ice Ice Baby” made history by becoming the first hip-hop song to top the Billboard Hot 100, and also earned a Grammy nomination for best rap solo performance.

2. Ying Yang Twins, “Wait (The Whisper Song)” (2005)

After getting the club crunk with songs like "Say I Yi Yi" and “Salt Shaker,” the Ying Yang Twins decided to leave the party and head straight to the bedroom with “Wait (The Whisper Song).” It’s almost Shakespearean how the duo manages to whisper throughout an entire track in a way that still sounds enticing -- despite it referencing the freakiest of sexual acts. The best part? When the brothers tease “wait ‘til you see my dick,” in a weirdly romantic way.

3. David Banner, “Play” (2005)

It seems like everyone was in a freaky mood in 2005, because David Banner released “Play” just four months after Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song).” “Play” remains Banner’s sole top 10 hit (it peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100). Its success may or may not be attributed to the production's spine-tingling blips and bounces (courtesy of producer Mr. Collipark), as well as the rapper's promises to "fuck 'til the bed break" and "put some dick in your world" that somehow sounds even more explicit in a hushed tone.

4. Kendrick Lamar, “Untitled 04” (2016)

“Untitled 04” -- the shortest track on Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered -- plays like a jarring and slightly unsettling interlude on an album filled with mostly vibrant melodies. As featured artists SZA and Lance Skiiwalker sing over a plucking guitar riff, Lamar’s rushed inner-ear reminders to not "tell 'em when you went to the park and everybody came back and..." -- along with additional ASMR triggers like sharp clicking sounds -- end up leaving you more uncomfortable than soothed.

5. Drake, “Nonstop” (2018)

2018 became the year that Drake decided to experiment with his instantly recognizable flow. Instead of pushing his trademark energetic, boastful tone, the 6 God adopted a sinister sound that felt more suitable for a character in an M. Night Shyamalan film. Scorpion’s “Nonstop” best highlighted this new flow, as Drake channeled Split while switching between grumbles under his breath and staccato whispers, almost as if he was speaking to his inner “Beast.”

6. Tyga, “Taste” feat. Offset (2018)

Tyga tiptoed into his comeback year of 2018 with his second-highest charting solo single thus far: “Taste.” The song embodies the rapper’s laid-back appeal, from the catchy-as-hell trap beat produced by D. A. Doman to the hushed chorus. Is the success of “Taste” partly due to its ASMR-like qualities? Well, that’s yet to be proven -- but what we do know is that “Taste” is one of the best hip-hop singles of the year.

7. Future, Young Thug & Quavo, “Upscale” (2018)

Never mind that this collaboration later became the basis for Cardi B’s “Drip," “Upscale” gave us a brilliantly experimental feature from Young Thug. The rapper's appearance stood out from collaborators Quavo and Future by adding in an unexpected dash of gentle whisper-brags. Towards the end of his first verse, Thugger begins to quietly boast about his rags-to-riches lifestyle in a way that makes you wonder if he should make his own ASMR channel.

8. Iggy Azalea, “Tokyo Snow Trip” (2018)

Iggy Azalea ushered in her new era this summer with the Tyga-assisted “Kream” and “Tokyo Snow Trip.” While the former received more shine, it’s the latter song that shows Azalea at her grimiest. For “Tokyo Snow Trip,” the rapper borrows influence from the Ying Yang Twins as she details drug deals and addiction ("Hush money in the sofa shhh / Bitch, you know what I'm totin'") with an ominous whispered flow. Add in a menacing bassline and you have a wild sensory adventure.

9. Goonew, “No Diss” (2018)

ASMR is meant to be a calming experience, but Goonew’s signature sound brings it to an unexpectedly haunting place. The DMV rapper is known for his whisper raps, which is best heard in “No Diss.” The song ebbs and flows between breathy murmured provocations and an eerie piano medley that would make Michael Myers come running.

10. Metro Boomin, “Don’t Come Out The House” feat. 21 Savage (2018)

21 Savage is one of the most nonchalant rappers in the game -- especially when rhyming about slaughtering people. His distinctly deadpan flow pairs well with frequent collaborator Metro Boomin’s intimidating beats. On November’s Not All Heroes Wear Capes standout “Don’t Come Out the House,” the Boomin/Tay Keith production unveils the rapper’s villainous alter-ego as he taunts the listener by flipping between violent ASMR-like bars. There’s something particularly dreary when he whispers dreadful lyrics like “All these bodies, I can't sleep at night, n---a.”


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