The History of Trap Music
It’s superhuge right now with the cool kids and it’s overrunning Soundcloud. Yet despite its growing popularity, a lot of people have one basic question … What the hell is trap?
Because of recent EDM trends, many people would tell you it’s the “new dupstep” or the “new moombahton.” But actually, trap music’s been filtering through the hip-hop scene for years, and its trademark hi-hats and thin snares are nothing “new.”
After seeing Flosstradamus at Spybar this past week…it’s hard to argue that trap music isn’t popular. The energy of the crowd was undeniable. Whether or not you cared for the music, at some point everyone’s hands were up .
1980: The Roland TR-808 is released. Its deep bass bumps matched with tiny snares and hi-hats will become central to the trap sound.
1990s: Houston, Texas hip-hop producer DJ Screw begins recording and selling slowed-down mix cassettes, inventing the famous chopped-and-screwed style. The music is slow because the listener is supposed to be “sippin’ sizzurp” (AKA codeine cough syrup), often mixed with soda to become “purple drank.” His friends begin rapping over the mixes, eventually coming together as the Screwed Up Crew, swarming the Southern hip-hop scene of the late ’90s and early 2000s. Notable Screwed Up Crew members include Lil Keke, Big Hawk, and Fat Pap.
2000: Due in part to the massive success of Outkast, Southern hip-hop gets more attention from mainstream American audience. The bounce-influenced New Orleans sound takes off with hits from the Cash Money Records crew, along with Houston’s chopped-and-screwed stuff and Tennessee’s Crunk music.
2003: Southern rapper T.I. emerges as a major player with his second album Trap Muzik, featuring hits like “Rubber Band Man” and “24s.” It’s music for people at the “trap house,” i.e. a drug house. Like chopped-and-screwed, this is music for people on drugs, selling drugs, driving slow, and riding strapped.
2007: 1017 Brick Squad Records, led by Gucci Mane, begins recording and releasing “Trap-A-Holics” mixtapes, featuring artists such as Waka Flocka Flame.
2009: Flocka releases his first album, Flockaveli. His ignorant, party-life lyrical style matched with heavy yet simple productions resonates with listeners both thug and suburban. Tracks such as “Hard in the Paint,” produced by Lex Luger, propel the rapper to fame. Luger’s dark trademark sound becomes pivotal in the Southern hip-hop and trap music scenes.
2011: Flocka and Luger continue to gain fame. Luger begins producing for bigger names, such as Rick Ross, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. The tinny, stuttering hi-hat begins to take over hip-hop radiowaves. Electro-house DJs mix the Southern-style productions into their dance-floor sets, and many producers create dubstep remixes of the biggest hits.
2012: Flosstradamus, an electro-house duo from Chicago, have a huge hit with their remix of Major Lazer’s new single “Original Don.” They slow it down, chop it up, and throw in some tinny hi-hats. They infuse the house beat with the distinguishing features of hip-hop’s trap and chopped-and-screwed genres.
The pair releases the Total Recall EP and the sound catches fire with fans already so hung up on the heavy bass of dubstep and the lazy rhythms of moombahton.
Next, Floss 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.
Today: The electro-house scene is on fire with trap remixes and original productions. Producers like DJ Sliink, Baauer, and Krueger make trap their calling card. White kids everywhere are running to Soundcloud, scouring the net for more “trap”. Many are saying trap is the “new dubstep” or the “new moombahton,” in reference to its extreme level of hype.
How will trap’s new romance with house music evolve? Will dance floors get over the fad in six months? Or is trap here to stay?