What The Hell Is Trap Music?

Yung Joc
By Rebecca Haithcoat

You may have heard the term "trap music." You may even realize that what people are calling "trap music" today, which sounds a whole lot like dubstep, is not necessarily what people were calling "trap music" a few years ago.

So, what the hell is trap music?

Not too long ago, "trap" referred simply to a place where drugs were sold -- hence the title of T.I.'s 2003 breakout album Trap Muzik, and the line from Yung Joc's jittery snap song "It's Goin' Down": "Meet me in the trap."

There's something poetic about this usage, with overtones of being "trapped" in the lifestyle. Trap music derived from this slang, and was associated with dealing, gang-banging or sipping drank, i.e. codeine/promethazine cough syrup mixed with soda.

Trap music in this connotation was characterized by soulful synths, 808s, the pan flute, sharp snares and long, syrup-slurred vowels. To take a step backwards, then, early '90s groups like Three 6 Mafia and UGK were making trap music before the term was coined. Many toss in Houston's DJ Screw and his "Chopped and Screwed" technique as well.

By the time Trap Muzik was released, trap seemed to have found its heart in Atlanta, and rappers Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy gained popularity in coming years. In 2005, Jeezy emerged with group Boyz n da Hood and further cemented his status as a "trap rapper" on his solo work Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Gucci Mane exploded with "So Icy" from his '05 debut Trap House.

More recently, Gucci protégé Waka Flocka Flame and producer Lex Luger teamed up to define and further morph the genre. Luger's signature glittery ascending synth, beefy and aggressive bass lines and Flocka's bark collided to create a coked-up monster of a sound. Their highly addictive songs have dominated hip-hop in recent years and thus have been, naturally, appropriated.

In fact, in recent months electronic dance music producers began fostering their own version of trap. "It began blowing up heavy [in L.A.] in May or June," says L.A. Weekly columnist Jeff Weiss. On Weiss' blog, writer Son Raw praises Diplo-led label Mad Decent affiliates UZ and Baauer as heading up the new breed of producers making "trap out[side] the trap."

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"Trap might've moved up out of the hood for now"

So a bunch of hipsters hijack the EXACT name of an entire genre of 13+ years and suddenly it's moved out the hood?   Real (a.k.a Original) Trap music is as big as it has ever been. That would be like if WE started calling hood music "Techno" or "Dubstep" and rapped over beats that slightly resemble the genre. Give it up, name it TrapStep. Or I'll have to get 10,000 twelve year olds to play a drum solo on guitar hero and say nigga 50 times over it and call it rock n roll.


I don't understand why it's called "trap music." As the writer states, "trap musik" is TI-style 2003 music...the current form is essentially a subgenre of dubstep..."trapstep" is a more appropriate moniker for trap-inspired dubstep.


gay men with tats and earstuds and shades....still just gay men.


rhymes with crap music....rhythm for burning Detroit buildings, sounds for stealing Nikes and beating up Asian and old white women.


what a pathetic bunch of former Kenyan grunts.

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