When it comes to the midrange, most tracks are based around fairly sparse arrangements of synthesizers and strings.
Trap features unusually complex hi-hat patterns – even for rap. More often than not, they are programmed with a triplet feel.
This means there are three beats played in a space that would normally be filled by two. Arrangements are sparse, which plays well with the dark lyrical subject matter.
Rap music has often been known for having dark lyrics, painting a grim picture of urban life. Trap music is no different. Most of the lyrical themes center around dealing drugs, urban violence, and poverty.
Trap music is a true hybrid. Over the years it has evolved pretty significantly featuring elements of traditional gangster rap, hip hop, electronica, dance (EDM), house, and dubstep.
Trap Music’s Origin Story
The history of trap is an oral history of how hip-hop music in the south evolved to push the genre forward.
The early 90s was a very fertile period for hip hop in general, and while it hadn’t caught on to the mainstream just yet, trap artists were starting to gain notoriety.
The UGK albums The Southern Wayand Too Hard to Swallow(both released in 1992) had songs featured in the groundbreaking film about being trapped in urban life “Menace to Society”.
Famous producer Lil Jon was one of the first to work on this new style of rap. Contemporary producers Mannie Fresh out of New Orleans and DJ Paul from Memphis were working with southern rap artists to blaze this new sound.
Some of the other earliest and most well-known trap artists from the 90s include Outkast, Three 6 Mafia, UGK, and Master P.
As the style started to take a stronger hold after the turn of the millennium, the incorporation of electronic dance music was a huge leap forward.
This is around the time EDM trap started to crop up. Critics and fans alike were starting to call rappers whose music and lyrical content mirrored this up-and-coming style as “trap rappers”.
The early-mid 2000s is when the genre really started to catch on. It quickly developed a crossover appeal.
And while the subject matter was far from clean, pop radio soon realized just how wide trap’s appeal was becoming.
Atlanta rapper T.I. claims to have coined the name with his seminal 2003 album Trap Muzik. With the kickoff single “24’s” the world witnessed the style stepping to the forefront.
Trap Music Breaks Into The Mainstream
While trap might have gained its footing almost three-decades-ago (some say even earlier in underground circles) it wouldn’t be until the 2010s that it broke into the mainstream. And once it did, it took off faster than anyone thought possible.
It only took a few years for electronic dance music producers to return the favor and start blending trap into their own sets.
A compilation album titled All Trap Music (2013) would go on to become the best-selling EDM trap record of all time.
Gucci Mane and Wacka Flocka Flame were some of the first artists that found success, signaling that this creative style was here to stay.
The SoundCloud platform played a huge part in the rising success of many artists that would incorporate the trap style into their music.
While debatable, many consider Fetty Wap’s 2015 hit “Trap Queen” to be the single that signaled trap music was there to stay in the commercial mainstream.
It’s hard to believe that as popular as hip hop music had been for over 30 years, it wasn’t until 2018 that trap music could claim the title of the most popular style of music in the world.
The Second Wave
By the end of the decade, trap music was bona fide.
Riding on the inspiration of the trap artists that came before them, performers like Rick Ross, Waka Flocka Flame, Young Jeezy, Chief Keef, and Future proved that the genre not only had listener appeal, but artists were able to evolve within it.
In 2019 Lil’ Nas X’s odd genre-bending hit “Old Town Road” shattered the record of the most consecutive weeks (19) at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Just as noteworthy, it was also the fastest song to reach Diamond Certification.
Trap music has become ingrained in the mainstream. It not only crosses musical barriers but cultural ones as well.
Latin America has produced its own flavor of trap music. It’s not just in that area of the world, as Latin US artists like Cardi B have put their own spin on it.
Trap music’s appeal has grown to such an extent that even some of the biggest pop stars like Ariana Grande have infused elements of it into their music.
While they have certainly grown beyond the genre itself, everyone from Post Malone, Drake, Travis Scott, Migos, and Young Thug (just to name a few) have found success on the popular music charts.
Even pop artists you would never associate with this style of music have jumped on the bandwagon. It grew in popularity so fast that it has even bled (no pun intended) into other genres like reggaeton and even Korean pop!
Genre progenitor T.I. opened Atlanta’s Trap Music Museum in 2018. Uniquely enough it features a symbolically-titled escape room called “Escape the Trap”.
Trap Music’s Influence On Other Genres
It should come as no surprise that trap music has had a profound influence on other genres. None more apparent than the steady creep into electronic dance music, trap house, lo-fi, and emo rap.
One of the most well-known, if not the most well-known emo-rap artists was the late, great Juice WRLD. His most famous song was a collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert in 2018’s “Wasted”.
Tragically, Juice WRLD died just six days after his 21st birthday from an unintentional overdose.
He had only experienced four years in the spotlight, but his legacy has never been more respected. It would be amazing to see where his music could have gone.
It’s not just subgenres of rap that trap music has bled into. Turn on the radio. You’ll hear its influence everywhere, especially when it comes to drum arrangements. Triplet hi-hat patterns, sub-bass kick drums – it’s all there.
From pop artists like Post Malone and Ed Sheeran to country artists like Kane Brown and Morgan Wallen (his obscenity scandal notwithstanding…) have integrated trap’s stylistic elements into their own music.
The term “trap” is slang from the southern United States – specifically from the Atlanta, GA region. The word can be used in many variations, but its meaning relates to dealing and trafficking illicit hard drugs.
What Is The Difference Between Trap And Rap?
Trap music is a subgenre of rap. It is similar to the popular gangster rap that became popular in the 1990s.
What Makes A Song Trap?
Trap music lyrics center around the darkest sides of urban life. This includes violence, drug dealing and trafficking, robbery, and gang life.
Some of the identifying features of trap music are very low, sustained kick drum parts, complex hi-hat patterns, and an emphasis on unique snare drums.
What Is Dark Trap Music?
Some of the hallmarks of dark trap include melodies that rapidly shift from slow to fast, a lot of sample use (commonplace in all forms of rap and hip-hop), and an even bigger focus on bass and low-end frequencies that give it a scary and entropic vibe.
Who Was The First Trap Artist?
This is debatable, but some of the most popular pioneers of the trap genre are T.I., Gucci Mane, and Young Jeezy.