Tapping into Trap

Read the music blogs, pick up a trendy magazine, or visit Soundcloud, and you’ll find it waiting for you. But although there seems to be a consensus that we’re living in the trap moment, there’s much less accord on what, exactly, trap is.

To meaningfully discuss trap, we have to distinguish between today’s variety – common referred to as “Nu Trap”, “Future Trap”, or “Trap House” – and the loosely connected American hip-hop scenes that provide the inspiration for the club fodder of the moment. Trap-rap, in its original sense, takes its name from the occupation –real or imagined – of the artists that performed it. In the slang of the day, crack was cooked in the “trap house” and sold in “the trap”. Why trap? Because it’s not easy to get out of the crack game.

In one sense, trap-rap was any rap primarily dealing with crack manufacture and distribution. But few would be likely to categorize Clipse or Ghostface as trap rappers, even though crack features prominently in their lyrics. Trap, as a metagenre, features a much darker, more menacing sound.

Indeed, today’s trap boom owes its heritage primarily two American hip-hop scenes of the 1990s and 2000s; the New Orleans No Limit era and Houston’s chopped and screwed trunk rap. The former, instantly identifiable by it’s rapid-fire hi-hats, provide much of the percussive inspiration for Future Trap. The latter, largely inspired by the promethazine sipping DJ Screw, prominently featured low, rolling baselines (suitable for blasting out of your trunk while you were cruisin’ and sippin’) and pitched down vocals, perfect for the narcotic effects of all the cough syrup drinking. Both elements feature prominently in today’s trap renaissance.

But the trap train hasn’t stopped. Since the mid 2000s, artists such as Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy, and Waka Flocka Flame have embraced an ever refining trap formula that prominently features minor chord progressions played on strings, pianos, or increasingly on arpeggiated synths, deep rolling bass lines, and military style percussion with crisp hi-hats and snares.

It is likely these second generation trapstars that have provided the inspiration the new wave of trap.

Because one day, a year or so ago, almost as if out of nowhere, a seeming unending supply of white guys in their bedrooms with pirated copies of Ableton discovered trap, and made it their own. Future Trap borrows martial drum lines, rolling bass, and pitched down hip-hop vocal samples of its predecessor, but largely works from a divergent sonic palette. Harsh string stabs are replaced with spare drums and heaps of sub-bass on many tracks, while a second school of Future Trap, led Flosstradamus and Bird Peterson, have embraced an almost cartoonish wash of late ‘90s Ibiza anthemic trance synths.

Structurally, Future Trap looks much closer to home for inspiration. The epic builds and rolling drops of the genre owe a distinct allegiance to late period dubstep, but without the Skrillex style aural madness. It makes for a much leaner, bouncier sound, but tends to move at the same 70/140 BPM tempo.

The genre eclecticism of Future Step and it’s hyperbuzzed status makes one wonder if it may not end in a spectacular collapse into brostep-ish mediocrity. Many of the young Soundcloud producers embracing the micro-genre seem keener on riding the wave of the next big thing then paying homage to Future Trap’s thug-hop roots. But for the time being, we’re ready to reserve judgment while we wile out to the massive drops and earworm vocal samples.

In fact, we such big fans that (full disclosure) two members of the Border Movement team – Wild City DJ and Flash Hardcor – are joining forces with DJ Su-Real and White Rabbit to bring a night of madness – Trap and otherwise – to Delhi. Breaking ground at the SSKY Lounge, a previously off-the-map venue on the 26th floor of the Connaught Place building famous for the rotating Parikrama restaurant, we plan to drop beats that come from the place where hip-hop and electronic dance music meet. Hip-House, Thug Rave, Future Trap, whatevs; We’re there, and you’re sweating on the dance floor to our late night, afterhours vibe. Pinky swear.

 ︻╦╤─ The TRAP ─╤╦︻  is sprung this Saturday, September 15th, SSKY Lounge, above Parikrama restaurant, Antiriksh Bhawan, 22 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Next to The American Center, 10:00 PM until everyone goes home and makes babies.  


written by Kerry Harwin

NEWS - 14. September 2012   CITY - New Delhi

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