The Ying Yang Twins were not the first artists to whisper on a track, but their breathy pickup lines on 2005's "Wait (The Whisper Song)" might as well be commemorated in the Smithsonian. The Atlanta rap duo could not have predicted how popular ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, would become on YouTube—the song predates the platform by a month—with people searching everything from pickle crunching, clicks on a keyboard, to well... whispering. Now YouTube is filled with "ASMRtists," who create content to trigger different neurological responses.
Last week, Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls joined Juicy J for "Three Point Stance," a collaboration that could easily be the soundtrack to your "hot girl summer." Less than halfway into the song, Meg exchanges her thick Houston accent for a soft whisper like she's got a secret to tell her listeners. "Pussy got power, this pussy got power / Fuck you on the sheets, skeet skeet for a hour," she raps on the song's chorus.
In the last year, we've seen how rap has profited from virality of meme culture with country rap hybrids like "Old Town Road" and "The Git Up." As ASMR carves a niche for itself as another part of internet culture, the fusion of ASMR with rap music is not surprising. If a video of Cardi B purring into a microphone can garner over 25 million views, why wouldn't other artists want to insert ASMR where it comes naturally to them? We pulled together a brief list of our favorite hip-hop ASMR moments.
8. Lil Wayne, Literally any song from No Ceilings
ASMR content isn't only confined to whispers and growls. Household items make the cut too, and what's more ubiquitous than the lighter that you can never find when you need it? Lil Wayne must always know where his BIC is, though, because he's done a pretty damn good job at making sure the mic catches him lighting one in the booth. 2009's No Ceilings picked up on a ton of lighter flicks, but "Wasted" finds him hitting his lighter three times before he even starts his verse. Wayne's just showing off at that point.
7. Future, "Thought It Was a Drought"
Future is truly a master at many things, but who knew ASMR was one of them? The intro to 2015's DS2 is a bit more substantial than Wayne's brief lighter flicks, providing some effects that place you in the studio with him. Just before he tells you what he's done to your bitch in his Gucci flip-flops, he makes himself a drink—one can presume it's dirty Sprite, based on the album's title. He's pouring for what seems like forever, and he even throws in some slurping noises for good measure.
6. Tyga feat. Offset, "Taste"
The 2018 summer smash leans on an entire whisper for a chorus. Sure, Tyga's just whispering "Taste, taste," but that's got to count for something.
5. Tory Lanez feat. Trippie Redd, "FeRRis WhEEL"
Tory Lanez might be best known for his penchant for sampling songs from the late 90s and early aughts on his Chixtape mixtape series, which makes his experimentation with whispering expected. Lanez comes in with high energy on the collaboration with Trippie Redd, which brings a nice contrast for when he interpolates "Wait (The Whisper Song)." "How you doing? How you like it? Let me whisper in your ear / Tell you a lil something you might like to hear." He doesn't change the lyrics up that much, but Lanez knows nostalgia is always a good selling point.
4. 21 Savage, "asmr"
21 Savage is a rapper who understands that whispering on a track means a lot more than just paying homage to his predecessors. In an interview with Genius, 21 revealed the meaning behind naming his i was > i am after the popularized sensory content. "I didn't know what ASMR meant, but when 'Don't Come Out the House' came out, I seen everybody tweeting like, 'What the fuck? 21 ASMRing on the song,'" he said. "So I was like shit, I'm going to name another song so they can say, "He named a song ASMR," just to make motherfuckers talk." Hearing him rap "I just need one glock, Nas need one mic," on the song's chorus takes the serious factor up a notch.
3. Metro Boomin feat. 21 Savage, "Don't Come Out the House"
Producers Tay Keith and Metro Boomin join forces on "Don't Come Out the House" with a truly menacing result. 21 Savage's arrival on the track complements their production with a verse begun in a sinister whisper. "Y'all must've thought I was gon' whisper the whole time," he says, addressing the fact that he's just having fun on the track. He retreats back to whispering for a final verse that comes naturally to him. We're waiting for more whispers from the Atlanta rapper.
2. David Banner, "Play"
David Banner's 2005 single "Play" came only four months after the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait." The song is so raunchy (and good) that whispering might have been the only way to cut through the sexual tension on the track. It's almost as if Banner took a lesson out of Janet Jackson's playbook.
1. The Ying Yang Twins, "Wait" (The Whisper Song)"
The Ying Yang Twins' 2005 hit is a Trojan horse of sorts. D-Roc opens the song seemingly harmless with a simple request: "Hey, how you doin' lil mama, let me whisper in your ear." The song gets a little more suggestive when he inquires about a booty rub until he reinforces that consent is the only way to go. "Mind if I touch it to see if it's soft? / Nah, I'm just playing unless you say I can." But his verse—and the rest of the song—quickly goes from subtle to downright pornographic. Even if it hadn't launched a mini-trend in its wake, "Wait (The Whisper Song)" should always be a part of the conversation.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.