Damn son, where’d ya find this?
It’s common for names like Flosstradamus, UZ, Baauer, & RL Grime to immediately come to mind when someone mentions trap music. This is often a result from the false perception that trap music only recently emerged in the last couple of years, when in reality, there is so much more to trap than an electronic build up littered with 808 kicks and dive bombing tom fills. Trap music dates back to the early 2000’s, well before electronic music intertwined. It is not some new fad in hip-hop and/or EDM, nor is it “the new dubstep”.
For Beat Makers and people alike, trap music is a way of life.
Origins of Trap Music
Trap first emerged in the early 2000’s, where the sound was first heard as an enclosed scene in rough-rounded neighborhoods of the southern states, including Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, & Virginia. The term “the trap” was introduced to hip hop fans by southern rappers during this time period, which at the time was used to describe the drug trade, as well as the psychic state (a blend of paranoia and megalomania) that tends to accompany long-term involvement as a dealer. Trap music deals not with living the high life, but more of what you have to do to get there.
Some of the pioneers, or originators, of trap music include southern rappers like Tity Boi (now known as 2 Chainz), Gucci Mane, T.I., Three Six Mafia, Waka Flocka, and Young Jeezy, as well as producers Drumma Boy, Mannie Fresh, and Shawty Redd. In the hip hop scene, trap music is defined not only by the content of its lyrics, but the trademark sound: booming 808-style sub-bass kick drums, twitchy sixty-fourth-note hi-hats, dive-bombing tom fills, and chilly cinematic strings.
In an interview with DJ Mag, Drumma Boy gives his answer to what trap really is:
“The trap just feels dirty; it’s that dirty, grimey 808 snare clap. There are only eight or nine instruments that make the trap sound, and then the music comes in with this gangsta, club feel. And the music hypnotizes. Trap is a lot like trance music, but it’s Southern trance music. And most trap has scary music or some type of ambience. Sometimes it makes me think of The Twilight Zone. It makes you feel like you’re in a dark dungeon, like you’re in the trap itself.”
As 2010 rolled around, trap music found itself on the top of the mainstream hip-hop charts. Lex Luger, a young Virginian producer at the time, contributed greatly to the eminence of the trap sound with his elements of production, including his reliance on clusters of fast or slow triplets to create fission within a beat. He made a serious name for himself by pushing out major tracks like Hard in Da Paint by Waka Flocka, B.M.F. by Rick Ross, and See Me Now by Kanye West. Now that trap was being heard across radio stations and at major clubs, it was only a matter of time until it broke through to another genre.
Trap Meets Dance
In Europe, crunk and trap music had travelled to dancefloors within electronic music’s underbelly from the very beginning, through rap-heavy DJs like Hollertonix (Diplo and Low Bee), Sinden, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, and more recently names such as Lunice, Araabmuzik, and Jacques Greene. The ingredients for EDM Trap were there, it was just waiting for someone to mix it up. This is where the innovators of trap music started to emerge to begin defining a new style of trap music. This sound has grown in popularity in the dance music scene at a rapid rate over the past couple of years.
With the new style of trap came a new fan base. As these two different genres began to overlap, the term “trap music” has differing meanings to each genres respective fans. David Drake from the hip-hop blog So Many Shrimp, along with others, resist describing it as a hybrid. “It might be more accurate to suggest that instead of a single genre called Trap, there are two separate genres of rap and dance music, both of which have gone through ‘trap-‘ phases,” he wrote for Complex last month.
Trap Music Now & Its Innovators
It wasn’t until late 2011-early 2012 that this new form of trap music started gaining attention. One of the first major tracks came from Chicago & Brooklyn based duo, Flosstradamus, arguable one of the biggest names in trap now. In 2012, they released their remix to Major Lazer’s Original Don, giving trap a twist and making it relevant while blowing it out of the water for the first time. The remix is filled with different speeds of trap rolls as well all the great vocal and snyths from the original tune. They then went to record a two-hour set for Diplo’s BBC Radio 1 show Diplo and Friends, highlighting trap music from its hip-hop origins to the leaders of the trap-house movement, cementing its place in popular EDM.
Another producer that emerged from the new trap sound is UZ, who showed up on Soundcloud with his ŤɌ∆Ҏ ᶊῌῗ† series. With no identity, UZ has remained anonymous while gaining support from names like Diplo, Flosstradamus, JWLS, Toddla T, and Baauer to name a few. ”UZ tunes are drunken energy sub bass and cartoon horn stabs that make my stomach feel weird and my feet shuffle,” Diplo says.
In an interview with Paper Mag, UZ shares his views on the new spin on trap. “Finally the US kids have something to call their own, and at a time when everyone is listening to dance music, the most palatable and digestible sound is trap,” he writes via email to keep his identity secure. “For many people, trap is a way out of a mundane life,” UZ continues. “There is a certain vibe or quality that is captured by the ATL guys, something that is very real, dark, and grimey. What we do is add the party element to it.”
Another artist that surfaced with the introduction of new trap was Brooklyn based producer, Baauer. Chances are you have heard Harlem Shake a handful of times, which sparked one of the biggest viral occurrences online. Some of the other primary innovators of trap include RL Grime (Mercy, Satisfaction, Love Sosa), TNGHT (Higher Ground), SALVA (What A Shame, Gas Pedal, Like Whaaat), Brillz (Dirt Off Your Shoulders, Acid Trippin), and gLAdiator (We Are, Scared Now, M1 Stinger).
In the past two years, EDM-trap has evolved at a rapid rate and gained a lot of popularity in the electronic music world, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be fading away like so many critics claimed it would. One may argue that “trap” isn’t a genre in itself, but more of a virus that clings on to other subgenres and infects them with it’s signature roots, like it did to hip-hop and what it’s doing to EDM now.
This new style of trap is continuing to evolve in the EDM scene, bringing out new sub-genres with completely different sounds, like Jersey Club and Future Trap, and to be honest, we have no idea where and when it is going to stop (if it ever does).