Ever wonder what a Trap is?? FAC examines the rise of the current genre dominating the music charts
I remember playing Need for Speed Underground in 2003 and hearing a song that made me want to look it up outside of the game, and no, it wasn’t that Riders on the Storm remix with Snoop Dogg; it was 24’s by T.I. An Atlanta rapper that had just released his first breakthrough album called Trap Muzilk. I was a big fan of Hip-Hop at this time, 50 Cent had just dropped Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and this G-Unit bling style rap would dominate the charts over the next few years but T.I. had released a different kind of sound. A sound different to that of previous Atlanta rappers at the time like Nelly and Ludacris.
Still this was the biggest success trap had album wise, until recent memory and even saw T.I. abandon the sound in the subsequent years to gain commercial success with the album ‘Paper Trail’ in 2008.
This fall off in the genre could be put down to a variety of reasons but the main two are its involvement in crime and drug use. Atlanta has seen many of its trap artists become addicted to Percocet and ‘lean’, an over the counter opiate drug found in some cough syrups. This addiction has caused deep problems within the industry as most of the musicians are addicted and the scene has struggled to get away from this; some of its biggest stars like Future, Gucci Mane, Birdman, Waka Flacka Flame and Lil Wayne are or have been heavy opiate addicts. With the former having recently collapsed after having a seizure on stage during a concert in Chicago.
However, Gucci's involvement in drugs is something that has benefited the genre with many of its up and coming MCs only seeking his approval and for him to 'put them on.'Due to this he has been behind the rise of artists currently dominating the charts such as Migos, Travis Scott, Young Thug and many Trap super producers.
Subsequently since roughly 2015, Trap has risen again and nowadays dominates not only the local Atlanta urban charts but the billboard charts.
The most successful of trap producers are known to go on marathon production and studio sessions; making more beats in one night that most other producers can make in a week. The level of production in trap can be inconsistent and a lot of poor sounds can come across at times but as the quantity is increasing so is the development of the beats. I cannot think of another genre of music outside of electronic music that is developing as consistently as Trap Music has in the last few years.
Trap Super Producers like Metro Boomin’, London on Da Track and Southside are becoming as famous as the artist they collaborate with on their beats. This is pretty much down to their productivity, releasing collaboration albums with MC’s that will benefit their beats as much as their beats will benefit the artists flow. This has caused the producers to be recognized figures in the industry and allowing them to give themselves a trademark shout out on their beats.
Lyrically, trap is on another planet, Artists such as Future almost give their listener a stream of their consciousness and this ability to become consistent in pushing his thoughts and mindset in his songs has given him critical and commercial success. Dirty Sprites 2 (DS2) is one of the first albums that come to mind when I think of critically successful Trap albums. The lyrics throughout this album give the listener an insight into the mind of a troubled Future, one who is struggling to cope with his new fame and the breakdown of his relationship with RnB singer Ciara. Following this album, he went onto gain chart success with the release of Evol and specifically the lead single, ‘Low Life’with the Weeknd. Recently he has also become the first artist in history to release two new albums in consecutive weeks with both going straight to number one in the Billboard Charts, which is an amazing feat.
Other Trap MC’s find their lyrical content arriving from the productivity of the beats. Young Thug specifically is one of the most efficient musicians in the public sphere at the moment, having released 8 projects since the beginning of 2015. Yet this is mainly down to his use of melody over the beats.
Young Thug is known to record music for at least 12 hours a day; going in and laying down melodies over beats and adding the lyrics later. An uncommon way to record music but one that is interesting to examine. Young Thug uses his voice and its unexpected range, to record some of the most unusual melodies and flows in rap today but with lyrical content that is true to its genre, but also content that is accessible to a much wider audience.
Outside of the Atlanta scene, Trap has been picked up on by artists across the world from Drake and The Weeknd to Swedish Rapper Yung Lean and his Sadboy crew. The beats and the overuse of high hats have allowed for these artists to concentrate on content rather than their flow and has made rap much more accessible to anyone wanting to become a lyricist. This is nothing but good news as the genre is consistently growing and developing all while opening itself up to cultures outside that of Atlanta.
16 August 2017