A Practical Guide to Trap Music

I'll be honest, I've been sitting on this article for more than a month now, deliberating how exactly I'm supposed to map out the essentials of trap music. Even saying the word now kinda irritates me because it's been thrown around so much, especially with its popular electronic/rave crossover. But my editor will kill me if I don't write this.

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There are both critics of trap and critics of people who are into trap. Both pose the same statement: "Trap isn't new -- it's been around forever." Well, yeah, we know that, and I think that ravers and such know that as well. It's a familiar Southern rap sound, very well identified here in South Florida, re-appropriated within the electronic/bass context.

Trap music, for all intents and purposes, has left a giant footprint on our local culture especially. And back when I was into emo and hardcore, I absolutely hated the genre, mostly because of its association with douchebags middle schoolers. Now that it's been re-purposed for club consumption (less King of Diamonds and more Fabric), there's an appreciation growing for it, isn't there?

In general, our listening habits have us gravitating more toward it, and we've essentially embraced ignorant party rap in exchange for the indie stuff we used to like more. It has a lot to do with what we're reading -- especially music blogs and publications, (like us, we're the best, though... right?). Somewhere a couple of years ago, someone decided to write critically and professionally about rap music and decided that this is something we can really decipher, analyze, and shamelessly enjoy.

There's a context in which this has flourished, one that allows up to like this kind of music so much these days. What follow is a list that provides a context to trap music as we know it.

Lil Noid - "Load My Clip"
Guttural, sinister, and fuckin' creepy. This is what I think of when I think of trap. Old Memphis, basement-style rap music.

Lord Infamous & DJ Paul - "Drop It Off Yo Ass"
DJ Paul doesn't get the credit he deserves. This is a trippy, drive-slow sleeper. So tight.

Three 6 Mafia - "Mystic Stylez"
Memphis posse cut. Very essential-listening. While you're at it, just listen to this whole record.

La Chat - "Salt Shakers"
Definitely a bit faster than other "trap" tempos -- this is almost bounce. But the bad bitch attitude is there, and La Chat is deeply underrated.

DJ Screw - "Southside Groovin"
It's hard to pick just one DJ Screw tune. But you listen to this one track in particular, and it's crazy how much of this you hear in "trap-rave" stuff. I would just recommend checking out all of Screw's tapes -- that is if you have a whole lifetime to spare.

UGK - "Hi-Life"
Early UGK stuff sounds more like a Boyz N the Hood soundtrack for the South. Real classic Southern stuff, but almost like proto-trap music. Has more in common with Snoop Dogg than anything we can identify with as trap.

Lil Boosie - "Mind of a Maniac"
Of course.

Mystikal - "I Smell Smoke"
Can't mention the context of trap without bringing up what was happening in New Orleans. You had both avenues of Memphis and New Orleans proto-bounce music pumping through labels like No Limit.

Trick Daddy - "Nann Nigga"
C'mon now. This is embedded in our conscience.

Lil Wayne - "Getting Some Head"
Jumping ahead to Dedication 2 era Lil Wayne, when he was at his prime, and not totally retarded.

T.I. - "You Don't Know Me"
Seminal early 2000s shit.

Gucci Mane - "Overboard"
Gucci is the master of infectious hooks.

D Dash Bo featuring Waka Flocka Flame, Reeseman Kackalack, Slim Dunkin - "80s Baby"
Pretty under-the-radar Brick Squad joint, but totally great.

Waka Flocka Flame - "Grove St. Party"
This is the point where a context was laid for electronic producers to take interest in trap. Listen to how electronic-y this song sounds. Almost like Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works... on lean.

Rick Ross - "BMF"

Girl Unit - "Showstoppa"
This is a song that doesn't get mentioned a lot with the onslaught of trap/electronic, but it's probably the catalyst for the whole movement. (Sorry, Baauer.) This is easy, a Rick Ross Instrumental.

Denzel Aquarius Killa Curry - "THV PHXNK RXIDXR KLVN"
Taking that Three Six sound back full circle. Raider Klan is bringing a guttural sound back in a bigger way.

Chief Keef - "Bang"
Can't even function with this song.

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