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Drain is officially a genre: here are five Drain Gang albums to stream now

If being Drainy is a sin, Lord, forgive me

This week, Spotify officially declared ‘drain’ a genre, but what does that mean? When remix culture has rendered most music today as genre-fluid, you need only look at other Spotify-generated genres such hyperpop and glitchcore to understand drain isn’t so much a distinct sound as it is a community of artists working across the same online spheres. In this case, ‘drain’ refers to music created by the internet-born, avant-garde boy band Drain Gang, consisting of vocalists Bladee, Thaiboy Digital and Ecco2k and producer whitearmor.

Since their formation in 2013, the Swedish collective have amassed a cult following for their Extremely Online strain of underground rap. Originally part of the ten-man group Smög Boys, the four eventually decided to break off and form Drain Gang, which saw them sign with YEAR0001 and regularly partner up with labelmate Yung Lean and his Sad Boys collective. Inspired in equal parts by Chief Keef, Lil B and Waka Flocka, the group gained prominence in the cloud-rap scene before going on to sculpt their own mercurial sound that features AutoTune croons, ethereal beats, and existential-like lyrics, capturing the sound of disillusioned youth everywhere.

Recognised for their elusive yet enigmatic online presence, the members of Drain Gang are fashion-forward outsiders, whose lo-fi aesthetic has inspired a distinct style amongst its super dedicated legion of fans, not to mention merch drops (Claire Barrow is a frequent collaborator) that sell out within seconds. The group’s eclectic style has inspired countless imitators – mostly baby-faced Soundcloud producers who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

With countless fan pages, Reddit threads, and self-referential meme pages, Drain Gang is perhaps the last thing we have left of an IRL subculture. So much so that drainerdom has even taken on pseudo-spiritual meaning, its fanbase imbuing Drain lore with an almost gnostic mysticism that propels its members from meme fodder to mythic creatures. In the words of Bladee, “if being Drainy is a sin, Lord, forgive me”. So, here’s a guide to Drain Gang in five key albums. When you’re done, read Dazed’s interviews with Thaiboy Digital and whitearmor.

D&G (2017)

D&G is a monster 17-track album that marks the group’s debut as Drain Gang (they previously used to go by Gravity Boys). Still firmly in their cloud-rap era, D&G is perhaps their most simple lyrically, with sparse lo-fi production and muffled percussion establishing their drained-out sound.


Last week Icedancer was mysteriously removed from Spotify, prompting fans on the r/sadboys Reddit to go into overdrive. The album is so beloved, in fact, that there’s even a petition to bring the album onto Instagram music. Produced by RipSquad, Icedancer is Bladee’s third mixtape and features thought-provoking lyrics that, fused with an icy nihilism, feels more jaded than previous works. The biggest track on the album “Be Nice To Me” sees Bladee sing-rap I don't wanna talk if you're not gonna talk to me nice” against a bubbly, uplifting melody. A crucial chapter in Drain lore, there’s a reason Icedancer is a fan favourite. So, what are you waiting for?


Recorded during a visit to Bangkok (DG member Thaiboy Digital was deported from Stockholm in 2015 due to visa complications), Trash Island is the third collaborative project by Drain Gang. With artwork by Ecco2k, its futuristic pop marks a sonic shift from the group’s lo-fi roots to an altogether more polished sound, with trance-heavy pads and synth-laden melodies dominating the album’s eight tracks. From “Western Union”, perhaps the most beloved track on the album, to the hedonistic “30th Floor”, Trash Island surges with cathartic bliss and euphoric highs.


Thaiboy Digital’s solo debut sees the Thai rapper reflect on his deportation at the age of 18 through a melancholic lens laden with trance melodies and hip-hop bars. Featuring guest appearances from Ecco2k, Bladee and Yung Lean, the album was recorded during a handful of visa-regulated sessions in Stockholm and London in the summer of 2018. Drifting between flex-heavy love songs and glossy synth lines, Legendary Member is dreamy and relentless offering from undeniable bangers from Drain Gang’s OG.

E (2020)

Until the release of his debut album, DG co-founder Ecco2k had held a mysterious presence in Drain Gang lore, only appearing on other people’s records. With E, he trades rap for a breezy take on contemporary pop. With production by friend and collaborator Yves Tumor (Ecco2k is behind many of the artist’s head-spinning music videos), the album sees him step into the spotlight across nine achingly angelic songs. Whether it’s ruminating on the colour of his skin on “Peroxide” or singing about ketamine crystals kissing his nose on “Calcium”, drain has never sounded so blissed-out and beautiful.

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