“What can be categorized as “real emo” nowadays?,” feels like a touchy subject question with a varied answer on the Internet these days. What happens when the resurgence of emo seeps into the depths of Soundcloud’s unmistakable rap game? Is it still emo?

It feels like in the last year or so we have seen an influx of rappers pledging their allegiance to early 2000’s emo. We have seen Lil Uzi Vert share that Paramore’s Hayley Williams is one his biggest musical inspirations. Princess Nokia sharing her love for Chiodos and Silverstein on Instagram. Also, the internet does not let us forget Post Malone covering Asking Alexandria in high school either – not to mention a slew of other emo covers that can be scene (get it? because he was a scene kid) out there on the internet.

With that in mind, it is no surprise the infamous rise of artists such as Lil Aaron – who is merging his love for 2000’s popular emo with undeniably catchy raps. Yes, popular emo as I am not sure if Lil Aaron is all too familiar the original emo bands such as Texas is the Reason, Jets to Brazil or even The Promise Ring. Lil Aaron labels himself as a scene kid as well. He rocks bright neon hair and is making it his mission to resurrect the scene kid, high-teased, side swept bangs, types rawr XD at the end of his texts, Hot Topic-style aesthetic, and all while bringing his beloved aesthetic to the forefront through his Soundcloud raps.

As an aficionado of emo, I indeed have already pre-ordered my Anthology of Emo: Volume Oneit is hard to take Lil Aaron seriously – at first. You have to separate the cross us emo purveyors have to bear fighting the fight of what makes an artist emo, and remember that the genre has now infiltrated itself across other subgenres and it will never be the same, regardless. Once we remind ourselves of that, only then can you learn to appreciate Lil Aaron and his immense talent as a rapper, writer and incredible producer. The dude raps over some of your favorite iconic emo songs: “Warped Tour” features Paramore’s Misery Business, “Hot Topic” (which Hot Topic approved of by calling it their “new theme song”) is led by Panic! At The Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” “Top 8” throws back to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “IWGFU” gives ode to Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team).”

In his new EP GLOING PAIN$, Lil Aaron continues to solidify himself as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to his raps. His fusion of hazy distorted mixes, lackadaisical attitude, and catchy bars – with nods to emo but also rap culture – make his EP a potent way of cementing himself in-between both genres. It breaks barriers and transcends what we think of emo rap in this moment in time. To be fair as well, his music it isn’t for everyone, but don’t let that turn you away from giving it a chance.

Will Lil Aaron ever be accepted into emo genre? No, but I don’t think he really cares and that kind of attitude is what separates him from other artists playing in this lane. Nevertheless, this isn’t the last you have heard of Lil Aaron as he is constantly producing new music and has a future as bright as his neon hair on the horizon. Find his merch at your local Hot Topic, slightly kidding.

Listen to Lil Aaron’s EP GLOING PAIN$ on Spotify and on Soundcloud (obviously) below.