Trap Music. Some would say it is the sound of the hood, a blending of traditional Hip- Hop with the gritty and melodic sounds of the south. But no matter what you call it, Trap music has taken over has Hip Hop’s mainstream sound. In commercials, in movies, and even in Television shows, Trap Music is everywhere. But what is trap music and how did it start? Who are the founders of Trap Music and how did it evolve into the Mechagodzilla of urban sound? In this piece, we will take a deep dive into the evolution of Trap Music.
Trap music is a subgenre of hip hop, crafted in the Southern Unites States during the early 1990s. Known for its 808 kick drums, and brash lyrics, Trap music has shaped an entire generation of Hip Hop lovers. The term “Trap” is used to describe a place where people sell drugs, but it morphed into the sound of the hood once rappers started using the term in their lyrics. Rappers like UGK, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Cool Breeze, Kilo Ali, Master P, and Ghetto Mafia were the first to coin the phrase and use it in their music.
According to the Music Origins Project, UGK was the first rap group to introduce trap music to the Hip Hop culture. In 1992, the Texas rap duo dropped “Pocket Full of Stones,” which was considered the first trap record released on a major label. The record was also featured in the movie Menace II Society.
UGK’s country rap sound laid the foundation for other southern artists to express themselves through Hip Hop. Master P would take over the mantle in 1996 with his single “Mr. Ice Cream Man,” which detailed life in “the trap” and the ups and downs of dealing drugs. But Master P’s contribution to Trap was even bigger than music. He introduced the entrepreneurial spirit into trap music, which is still a major part of it today. Master P would go on to make the featured film “I Got The Hook Up,” in 1998, mainstreaming trap music onto the big screen. OutKast would also push the culture forward in the late ’90s and although not quite trap music, they made casual Hip Hop fans pay more attention to southern rap culture.
T.I. would hit the scene in the early 2000s, as Trap Music’s success in the industry started to really emerge. In 2003, the Atlanta rapper would drop his second studio album “Trap Muzik,” which would go on to sell over 2 million copies and push Trap Music into the consciousness of fans who were not familiar with the sound. Songs from the album would be featured in video games as well as movies. Trap Music was now more mainstream than ever, and the south finally started to see the recognition it deserved within Hip Hop culture.
In 2005, trap music would take another step towards evolution with the scratchy and raspy voice of Young Jeezy. His album, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation sold 172,000 copies in its first week and was later certified Platinum, eventually becoming one of the most legendary Trap albums of all time. His rough demeanor and aggressive lyrics would make him a key player in the growth of Trap Music. After the success of Trap in the early 2000s, Atlanta would continue its dominance in the art form, as artists like Future and Young Thug grew the sound to even bigger heights.
Future hit the scene around 2010 with a series of mixtapes, including 1000, Dirty Sprite, and True Story. His sound captivated audiences all over the world. An eclectic mix of stoic lyrics and an auto-tuned melody, Future would help shape an entire generation of young artists who would follow and mirror his style for years to come. With Hip Hop still evolving to this day, who knows what form it may take in the future.
But one thing is for certain, any form it will take would not be able to exist with the pioneers of Trap Music. The trap sound will forever be ingrained in the fabric of our culture, and for good reason. When that 808 hits, it takes you to places you have never been before. It’s almost euphoric in a way. That feeling you get when your favorite trap song comes on will also never go away. So, when you think about Hip Hop where it started, and where it’s going, remember to add Trap Music to that conversation.
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