Trap (music genre)

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Trap Music
Stylistic originsSouthern hip hop, crunk
Cultural originsEarly 2000s, United States
Typical instrumentsSequencer, drum machine, synthesizer, keyboard, digital audio workstation
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Trap Music
Stylistic originsSouthern hip hop, crunk
Cultural originsEarly 2000s, United States
Typical instrumentsSequencer, drum machine, synthesizer, keyboard, digital audio workstation

Trap music is a music genre that originated in the early 2000s from Southern hip hop and crunk in the Southern United States.[1][2] It is typified by its lyrical content and trademark sound, which incorporates 808 sub-bass kick drums, double-time, triple-time and other faster time division hi-hats, layered synthesizers, and "cinematic" strings.[3][4]

In 2012, a new movement of electronic music producers and DJs emerged who began incorporating elements of trap music into their works. This helped expand its popularity among electronic music fans. A number of stylistic offshoots of trap developed, which in the latter half of 2012 gained a rise in viral popularity and made a noticeable impact on dance music.


2000s: Beginning and origins

The term "trap" was literally used to refer to the place where drug deals are made. Fans and critics started to refer to rappers whose primary lyrical topic was drug dealing, as "trap rappers."[3] 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."[5]

UGK and Three 6 Mafia were among the first rappers to introduce trap music. The lyrics covered topics about life in "the trap", drug dealing and the struggle for success.[4] Local Southern rappers, such as T.I., Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy helped expand the popularity of the genre and trap records started to appear on local mixtapes and radio stations.[2]

In 2003, trap began to emerge after the success of a number of albums and singles released at the time. T.I.'s second studio album Trap Muzik achieved major commercial success, selling over 2.1 million copies and receiving favorable reviews. The album's lead single, "24's", was featured on EA's popular video game Need for Speed: Underground. In 2005, trap music broke in the mainstream with the release of Young Jeezy's Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101.[1] The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, with 172,000 copies sold in its first week of release and was later certified platinum by the RIAA for shipment of over 1 million copies. Some of the first trap producers include Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd, Zaytoven and DJ Toomp.[5]


By 2010, trap records were around the mainstream hip-hop charts.[2] Producer Lex Luger gained huge popularity and went on to produce over 260 songs between 2010 and 2011, including a number of popular artists singles, such as Rick Ross' "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)" and "MC Hammer," Kanye West's "H•A•M" and "See Me Now" and Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard in da Paint".[2][3] Luger's trademark sounds have since been widely adopted by rap producers, trying to replicate his success,[3] and he is often credited with popularizing the modern trap sound.[citation needed]

Since 2011, a number of other modern trap producers have gained popularity, most notably 808 Mafia, Southside, Sonny Digital and Young Chop. Some producers expanded their range to other genres, such as R&B (Mike WiLL Made It) and electronic music (AraabMuzik).[citation needed]

In 2012, trap songs, released by rappers such as Chief Keef and Future, went viral.[2] Keef's "I Don't Like" and "Love Sosa" gained over 30 million views on YouTube. "I Don't Like" inspired notable 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."[1]

Pop artist 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.[6][7]

Electronic developments

In 2012, new styles and developments of electronic music which incorporated elements of trap music, such as "acid trap," "trap-ah-ton," and "trapstep" began gaining popularity.[8] Most of these sub-genres combined trap-style drum patterns with EDM synths,[3] creating "dirty, aggressive beats [and] dark melodies."[8] Electronic producers, such as Diplo, TNGHT, Baauer, Flosstradamus, RL Grime, and Yellow Claw expanded the popularity of these developments of trap music, gaining the attention of electronic music fans.[9]

The new wave of the genre has been labeled as EDM Trap[9][8][10] and compared to dubstep because of its sudden rise in popularity.[4] The evolving EDM Trap has seen incorporations and stylistic influences from other genres such as Dubstep with Rebecca Haithcoat of LA Weekly stating "You could basically call it the next phase of dubstep. It plays at a club-ready 140 bpm while retaining dubstep's craze-inducing drops" and it is continuing to grow in popularity[11] . In the latter half of 2012, new offshoots of trap developed gaining viral popularity and making noticeable impact on electronic dance music.[9] 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" is used to describe two separate genres of rap and dance music.[5]

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.[12] Five popular EDM trap producers performed at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival in the United States - Carnage, ƱZ, DJ Craze, Baauer and Flosstradamus.[8] The 2013 Tomorrowland festival featured a "Trap Stage".


  1. ^ a b c Phili, Stelios. "Fighting Weight: From the Trap to the Treadmill". GQ. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The trap phenomenon explained". DJ Mag. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Raymer, Miles. "Who owns trap?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Joseph Patterson (January 19, 2013). "Trap Music: The Definitive Guide". Topman. Sabotage Times. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Drake, David. "The Commodification of Southern Rap's Drug-Fueled Subgenre". Complex. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Lady Gaga Artpop". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  7. ^ "Lady Gaga 'ARTPOP' review: What's the verdict?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  8. ^ a b c d Bein, Kat. "Top Five Trap Stars at Ultra Music Festival 2013". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "What is Trap Music? Trap Music Explained". Run The Trap. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Isenberg, Daniel. "The Top 10 EDM Trap Tunes So Far". Complex. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "'What the hell is Trap music (And why is Dubstep involved)'". LA Weekly. 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  12. ^ Wagner, David (February 13, 2013). "The Harlem Shake Meme Is Dead". The Atlantic Wire. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2013.