So v a p o r w a v e is a genre of music not to be confused with vaporware (what we thought FF Versus XIII would be and remain to be before it became FFXV, though it could be argued, because the spirit and idea of FF Versus XIII are so fundamentally different from what FFXV ended up being, that FF Versus XIII is still in fact vaporware, but we’ll ignore that). But v a p o r w a v e, at least in my opinion, is pretty dope. To define it, I guess, I’d say that it’s a genre of music that sounds funky and resembles tunes from the 80s and 90s. Sometimes it’ll sound like elevator music, but for me it’s just chill music. In certain official definitions it’ll say that the music is anti-capitalist which… okay… it makes sense for the name (pay attention to the first sentence). It apparently emerged in 2010, and when most people think of v a p o r w a v e, they think of the song “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー” (which oddly translates to, “Lisa Frank 420/ Modern Computing”) from the Macintosh Plus album, Floral Shoppe.
The first time I heard the aforementioned song, I knew that I wanted to listen to more of the genre (also because I mean… it’s Diana Ross slowed down, and it shouldn’t sound dope, but it does). It was just odd enough for me to like it. Yes, I know, I’m fucking weird. And because v a p o r w a v e is weird, of course its culture is weird, which is why I usually try to hide my like of v a p o r w a v e (and also anime/ general weeb culture)—I want my personal family line to continue beyond me and my personality is already enough of a goddamn hindrance. Anyways…there’s a weird culture of v a p o r w a v e, starting with the fact that I’ve been spacing out the letters of the word. I’d like to say that it’s all because of a e s t h e t i c (a word that’s been taken out of control and sometimes I unfortunately use it un-ironically). I’d like to assume that they space out the letters to show some sort of wavy spaciness. The culture is also weird because it’s very reminiscent of the 80s and 90s, yet the style of music is slightly off kilter allowing for random glitches and beautiful dissonance, so the culture in itself becomes a weird amalgamation of of 80s and 90s and modern interpretation, so everything gets jammed together: culture, media, technology. It turns into images like this:
Then because of the culture formed by v a p o r w a v e, the music then bounces back and adapts, understanding its audience. So you’ll get songs like this:
The music genre, also because it plays off of a feeling of 80s and 90s music, lends to a culture that takes in Japanese culture (in the 80s there was a lot of focus on Japan seeing it as a economic riser. It had all the games and dope technology. Look at a few 80s sci-fi movies and stories and you’ll get what I mean—suggestion: Blade Runner). So you’ll have songs accompanied with anime .gifs (just in case you’re wondering how to read .gifs, it’s a hard G) in the background. Or sometimes you’ll get a song that has Japanese in it. So the a e s t h e t i c really draws in anime nerds and weebs. Though I’m not gonna lie, there’s this artist named MAITRO and he has a few albums called Dragonball Wave, which is essentially v a p o r w a v e with Dragon Ball influences, and it’s pretty dope (suggestions: “Future Trunks” or “Kame House” or “Flying Nimbus”).
One last weird thing about the genre is it’s appeal to dank memers. Which while annoying, it’s completely fine. Most of the dank memers I’ve seen who embrace the culture seem to not be mainstream, though. Kinda obscure with their dankness. You’ll get anime references and some weird stuff, it’s fun sometimes. There’s this thing about Fiji water that I don’t really understand. Also you’ll get solo jazz cup images, and I don’t want to admit that I want of shirt of the pattern, but I want a shirt of the pattern (or a hat).
A fun part of v a p o r w a v e is how adaptive it is. It can seep into many other music genres. So there can be vaportrap or it can influence lo-fi hiphop, there’s glo-fi/ chillwave, there’s future funk etc. It’s a genre that’s fun and weird and funky and oddly enough, I love it. But if we ever meet in public, I don’t. So I think that’s all I have to say about v a p o r w a v e. Try it out. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. But if you do like it, please realize that the culture is weird and will be alienating. Either you embrace it or you like it from the periphery. I’ll leave you with one last song, some chill beats, “I’m sorry” by SweLL ft. Shiloh. Later days.