|Stylistic origins||Southern hip hop, hardcore hip hop, crunk|
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s, 2000s
Port Arthur, Houston, Texas
|Typical instruments||Sequencer, sampler, drum machine, synthesizer, keyboard, strings, brass, digital audio workstation, percussion, woodwind|
Trap music is a music genre that originated in the early 1990s in the Southern United States. It is typified by its aggressive lyrical content and sound, where the instrumentals are propelled by 808 kick drums or heavy extended sub-bass lines, double-time, triple-time and other faster time division hi-hats, layered synthesizers, and "cinematic" strings.
Trap music incorporates an extensive use of multi-layered hard-lined and melodic synthesizers; crisp, grimy and rhythmic snares; deep 808 sub-bass kick drums or heavy sub-bass lines; double-time, triple-time and similarly divided hi-hats; and a cinematic and symphonic utilization of string, brass and keyboard instruments creating an overall dark, harsh, grim and bleak atmosphere for the listener. These primary characteristics would go on to be the signature sound of trap music originating from producer Shawty Redd. The speed of a typical trap beat has a BPM of 140.
Trap music is also defined by its ominous, bleak, gritty and belligerent lyrical content which varies widely according to artist. Typical lyrical themes portrayed include observations of street life, poverty, violence, hardship in the "trap" and harsh experiences in urban surroundings.
The term "trap" was literally used to refer to the place where drug deals are made and how it is difficult to escape the lifestyle. The term originated in Atlanta, Georgia where rappers Cool Breeze, Dungeon Family, Outkast, Goodie Mob and Ghetto Mafia were some of the first to use the term in their music. Fans and critics started to refer to rappers whose primary lyrical topic was drug dealing, as "trap rappers." David Drake of Complex wrote that "the trap in the early 2000s wasn't a genre, it was a real place", and the term was later adopted to describe the "music made about that place."
In the early 1990s, rappers UGK, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Cool Breeze, Kilo Ali, Master P, and Ghetto Mafia were among the first rappers to introduce trap music. In 1992, UGK's "Pocket Full of Stones" was one of the earliest trap records to be released from their major-label debut album Too Hard to Swallow. It was also featured in the 1993 film Menace II Society. In 1996, Master P released his single "Mr. Ice Cream Man" off his fifth studio album Ice Cream Man. The lyrics covered topics about life in "the trap", drug dealing and the struggle for success. Local Southern rappers, such as Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti and T.I., as well as his rap group P$C, helped expand the popularity of the genre and trap records started to appear on local mixtapes and radio stations.
During the 2000s, trap began to emerge after the success of a number of albums and singles released at the time. In 2003, trap music broke into mainstream with the release of T.I.'s second studio album Trap Muzik. It achieved major commercial success, selling over 2.1 million copies. The album's lead single, "24's", was featured on EA's popular video game Need for Speed: Underground. T.I. explained that "It's informative for people who don't know nothing about that side of life and wonder why somebody they know that live on that side of life act the way they do or do the things they do. So it's informative for them and maybe it can help them deal with these people, help them relate to these people, help them understand, help them to see their point of view a little better." In a December 2012 interview, T.I. said he created trap music: "With the exception of Outkast, let me think, Goodie Mob... with the exception of that, before I came in the game, it was Lil Jon, Outkast, Goodie Mob, okay so you had Crunk music and you had Organized Noise. There was no such thing as trap music, I created that, I created that. I coined the term, it was my second album, it dropped in 2003. After that, there was an entire new genre of music created. An open lane for each of you to do what you do, and live your lives, on T.V., and be accepted by the masses. The masses have accepted you 'cause I opened the door and you walked through it. Don't forget who opened that door cuz."
In 2005, trap continued with the success of Young Jeezy's Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, with 172,000 copies sold in its first week of release and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of over 1 million copies. The album also popularized producer Shawty Redd after creating the original signature trap sound. Some of the early trap producers include DJ Toomp, Fatboi, Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd, D. Rich and Zaytoven.
In 2010, trap continued to gain momentum and reached mainstream hip-hop charts across the United States. Trap producer Lex Luger broke out of relative obscurity, gained huge popularity, and went on to produce more than 200 songs between 2010 and 2011, including a number of popular artists' singles, such as Rick Ross' "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)", Kanye West and Jay-Z's "H•A•M", and Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard in da Paint".
Since 2010, Luger's signature trap sound (strongly influenced by trap predecessor Shawty Redd) has been his heavy use of 808s, crisp snares, synth keys, and orchestration of brass, strings, woodwind, and keyboards. His sounds have since been adopted by rap producers, trying to replicate his success, and he is often credited with popularizing the more modern trap sound. Since the 2010s, modern trap producers have gained popularity, most notably 808 Mafia, Southside, Sonny Digital, Young Chop, Lil Lody, and Metro Boomin. Some producers expanded their range to other genres, such as R&B (Mike WiLL Made It) and electronic music (AraabMuzik).
Throughout 2011 to 2012, trap songs maintained a strong presence on the mainstream Billboard music charts with records released by rappers such as Young Jeezy, Chief Keef and Future went viral. Jeezy's single "Ballin" hit #57 on the Billboard charts and was considered one of Jeezy's best tracks in some time. Future's single, "Turn On The Lights", was certified gold and entered at #50 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 while Keef's "I Don't Like" and "Love Sosa" garnered over 30 million views on YouTube, also spawned a new subgenre within trap called drill. Music critics called drill production style the "sonic cousin to skittish footwork, southern-fried hip-hop and the 808 trigger-finger of trap." Young Chop is frequently identified by critics as the genre's most characteristic producer. The sound of trap producer Lex Luger's music is a major influence on drill, and Young Chop identified Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy and Zaytoven as important precursors to the drill movement. "I Don't Like" inspired fellow Chicago native, notable hip hop producer and rapper Kanye West to create a remix of the song, which was included on his label GOOD Music's compilation album Cruel Summer. Stelios Phili of "GQ" called trap music "the sound of hip hop in 2012."
Since maintaining a strong presence on the mainstream music charts, trap music has been utilized by non-hip hop artists. Beyoncé's songs "Drunk in Love", "Flawless" and "7/11", all from her 2013 album Beyoncé, also contained trap influences. American dance-pop singer Lady Gaga recorded a trap-inspired song titled "Jewels 'n Drugs" for her 2013 album Artpop, featuring rappers T.I., Too Short and Twista. The combination of pop and trap music was met with mixed responses from critics. In September 2013, American pop singer Katy Perry released a song titled "Dark Horse" featuring rapper Juicy J, from her 2013 album Prism, that incorporated trap flavors. The song reached the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100 by the end of January 2014.
Within EDM, songs often have multiple build-ups to "drops" which are characterized by a pounding bass drum in a four on the floor pattern. However, EDM trap music generally deviates from this formula, incorporating drops that utilize heavier, rhythmic bass drum hits that may fall on the offbeats of the beat. This is occasionally used to throw-off the listener's expectations, or create more powerful drops than a typical EDM song might contain.
In 2012, new styles and developments of electronic music which incorporated elements of trap music, such as "trap house", "trap-ah-ton", and "trapstep" began gaining popularity. Most of these subgenres combined trap-style drum patterns with EDM synths, creating "dirty, aggressive beats [and] dark melodies." Electronic producers, such as Diplo, TNGHT, Baauer, Flosstradamus, RL Grime, and Yellow Claw expanded the popularity, gaining the attention of electronic music fans.
In the later half of 2012, these new offshoots of trap developed gaining viral popularity and made a noticeable impact on electronic dance music. The music was initially dubbed simply as "trap" by producers and fans, which led to the term "trap" being used to address the music of both rappers and electronic producers, to much confusion among followers of both. Instead of referring to a single genre, the term "trap" has been used to describe two separate genres of hip hop and dance music. The new wave of the genre has been labeled by some as EDM trap to distinguish it from the rap genre. The evolving EDM trap has seen incorporation and stylistic influences from dubstep, in which trap has been hailed as the superseding phase of dubstep during the mid 2010s. The new phase typically plays at 140 BPM with strong bass drops, which has been growing in popularity since 2013.
In 2013, a fan-made video of electronic trap producer Baauer's track "Harlem Shake" became an internet meme, propelling the track to become the first trap song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Five popular EDM trap producers performed at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival in the United States - Carnage, ƱZ, DJ Craze, Baauer and Flosstradamus. The 2013 Tomorrowland festival featured a "Trap Stage".
On February 10, 2013, All Trap Music released their debut compilation album which featured 19 tracks from artists such as RL Grime, Flosstradamus, Baauer, Bro Safari, Buku, 12th Planet, Hucci and UZ. Described by the music press as the first album of its kind  it reached number two in the iTunes dance chart with Vibe Magazine stating it was "the world’s biggest selling EDM trap album ever."  In 2013, DJ Snake and Lil Jon released the single Turn Down For What, became both a commercial hit charting in several countries and a critical hit. Rolling Stone voted "Turn Down For What" as the 2nd best song of the year 2014, saying that, "The year's nutsiest party jam was also the perfect protest banger for a generation fed up with everything. DJ Snake brings the synapse-rattling EDM and Southern trap music; Lil Jon brings the dragon-fire holler for a hilarious, glorious, glowstick-punk fuck you."  Trap music has also found fame internationally, especially in South Korea. In November 2014, the K-pop duo G-Dragon and Taeyang of the South Korean boy band BIGBANG, released their single "Good Boy", where it incorporated strong elements of trap and electronic flavors. The single garnered 2 million views in less than 24 hours and was met with positive reviews from music critics.
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