Remember when The Tyee reported that dubstep is the new heavy metal? Well if dubstep is now heavy metal, then trap is the new dubstep. This summer, it seems like you couldn’t step into a club without hearing it. You also couldn’t listen to a song on YouTube without reading, “Yo, listen to my trap remix of this jam!” in the comments. (Keep dreaming buddy. No one’s going to click on your link.) So what the hell is it?
“The Trap” is slang for a crack den or a place where drugs are sold. Southern ghettos is where trap music originates from and, for some inexplicable reason (osmosis, you think?), it’s a dark and guttural hip hop beat. The sound has been around for a while — listen to any album by your favourite Oscar winners and you’ll hear it. However, the geniuses on North American hip hop message boards want to attribute it to one guy: Lex Luger.
Rather than continue to describe what trap sounds like, you should probably just give a quick listen to the breakout tracks the now 21-year-old Luger produced for Waka Flocka Flame and Rick Ross in 2010. You’ll quickly understand why it’s the perfect beat if you’re looking to rap about popular southern gangster activities like pimping, selling drugs, or drinking lean (One part codeine syrup, one part sprite, serve on ice in a Styrofoam cup with a Jolly Rancher candy to taste, kids!)
After these two tracks blew up, Kanye West and Jay-Z sunk their claws into him. That was followed by the backlash from hip hop aficionados proclaiming Luger a played-out one trick pony. Instead of fading into obscurity, a funny thing happened with trap music. And by “a funny thing,” I mean the same thing that happens whenever anything musically interesting comes out of the worst neighbourhoods in the world: privileged white people take it and make it their own. My God, we’re so bloody lame and predictable.
You can hear trap’s influence with indie darlings like Purity Ring and Salem. But where it’s really spreading is in the EDM scene. Every white kid with a pirated copy of Fruity Abelton XXL and a “mega swag platinum” sample pack from the Piratebay started making trap this summer. Essentially, trap has become rave music for white kids who are into hip hop. Here, have a listen to EDM’s trap anthem “Harlem Shake” by Baauer.
It’s not just zitty bedroom producers who got behind the sound. In fact, some of EDM’s perennial tastemakers have hopped on board as well. There’s Diplo with his remix of Sleigh Bells’ “Demons.” Dillon Francis recently did a trap remix of one of his very own tunes. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a trap remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games,” Flosstradamus have a treat for you! Even the man everyone loves to hate, Skrillex, made a foray into it with his remix of Birdy Nam Nam’s “Goin’ In” and it quickly became the most listened to trap song of the summer. A bit closer to home, Vancouver’s Expendable Youth put together this excellent trap mix that you should probably download and give a good listen to.
Caucasian musicians have always been playing follow the leader with inner city sounds — from baile funk, breakbeats and ghettotech, to more obscure genres like house, techno, and rock ‘n roll. While new dance music genres come and go about as quickly as people can come up with names for them, it appears that trap may have survived a summer of heavy play in the clubs. Unfortunately, for all of us, this means we’ll all be subjected to watching more white people dancing like idiots to it at least until Halloween.
this article was originally published in the tyee in september 2012