An electronic subgenre merging characteristics of hip-hop with house and bass music has been gaining momentum over the past year. D.C.-based festival Trillectro highlighted it, but the true starting ground is Soundcloud, where producers, both established and aspiring, drop mixes under the name of “trap.”
Trap, a fusion subgenre in the same vein as moombahton or disco house, blends the vocal styles of Southern hip-hop and crunk, albeit pitched higher, with the sounds of house, electro, and various bass music subgenres. Although greater attention has been paid to trap ever since Flosstradamus dropped a remix of Major Lazer’s “Original Don” in January 2012, its origins are less clear cut.
The Miami New-Times points to the 1990s as the starting point for trap, including its chopped up, slowed down style showing up on mix tapes by DJ Screw and lingo like “sippin’ sizzurp” (to describe the effects of taking codeine syrup). The term surfaced in the mainstream in the early 2000s, they go onto indicate, with Southern hip-hop mix tapes, such as T.I.’s Trap Muzik and 1017 Brick Squad Records’ Trap-A-Holics series from Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame.
But, Complex, in profiling the emerging subgenre in 2012, claims trap is forced: two disparate club genres, and their respective audiences are being merged together, while the origins of the name “trap” – it means the location and character of where drugs are sold – are being glossed over and misappropriated by ill-informed EDM producers.
This dichotomy – of street culture as both an influence and the driving force behind how hip-hop is sold to the masses – pervades the entire genre, Complex claims, with writer David Drake stating:
Thus street rap’s core underlying dynamic, the structure that defines the genre, is a knotty, contradictory tangle of tensions between realism and performance, documentation against artifice, aspiration to escape the hood scraping against loyalty to your people, the pull of money and the ethical considerations in a world where the social contract has been shredded.
Flosstradamus’ remix, as well as trap’s push by Diplo’s Mad Decent and Skrillex’s OWSLA Records, further accentuates this decades’ old theme.
Websites dedicated to the subgenre, as well, detail the split. RunTheTrap.com, for instance, describes trap as: one-third hip-hop, one-third Dutch house, and one-third dub. TrapArtists.com, on the other hand, focuses solely on the generally Atlanta-based hip-hop producers and production techniques.
But, based on the deluge of trap mixes surfacing on Soundcloud, you’d think that the subgenre was the latest dubstep – and, for U.S. EDM audiences, that’s how it’s being treated and marketed. Trap producers not associated with hip-hop audiences spin on Diplo & Friends, including Montreal-based Lunice, and European turntablists Birdy Nam Nam are being grouped in with dubstep for American audiences.
Houston-born producer Lotic, on the other hand, recently responded to the subgenre’s surging popularity in the U.S. by releasing somewhat tongue-in-cheek track “Origins.” As to why he put together this track, Lotic mentioned in an interview with Vice, “Much of the