Caught in the Trap: A look at the future of Trap Music

Sihle Shongwe

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Sihle Shongwe

Is it trap cause it’s catchy? Is it a trap and we’re caught?

‘Music is what feelings sound like’; if you’re an avid lover of music, you’re probably aware of this saying. It isn’t difficult to see how easily music can dictate our emotions to us whenever our mood sits at the front and class is in session.

And, as is the norm, every classroom has a student that stands out for questionable reasons; enter trap music. He is the student that has no regard for timeliness, his uniform always reeks with the smell of cigarette smoke, his bag is covered with permanent markings that make sense to no one other than himself. He’s kind of offbeat, in the literal and figurative sense, and if music is really what emotions sound like, trap music conveys a young adolescent attitude and mischief that has had many a traditional hip-hop head waving their finger in his face. But is all this uproar justified?

Trap music is best described as a combination of hip hop, dance music and dub. It first emerged from the south of the U.S, namely Atlanta, with artists like Gucci Mane and T.I having been at the forefront of the genre. At the very beginning of trap, one person was most responsible for the elements that make up the trap sound-Shawty Redd (Setaro, 2017). Shawty Redd was still a teenager when he collaborated with a rapper called Drama on his debut album. Drama had strong ideas about drum patterns which he expressed by pounding his chest while rapping. Shawty Redd then added what he referred to as a ‘special element’, these being the hi-hats and bass, which would become a signature for ATL music and trappers the world over. Shawty Redd then passed on his newly conceived sound to Young Jeezy, who would then carry the mantle further (Setaro, 2017).

Some see trap as a step in the evolution of hip hop music and although many scoff at this idea, its reach is undeniable, its voice is persistent and its influence is clear as day. To some degree, the more people try to criticise trap the more its appeal grows, much like the disruptive student. His sense of rebellion is contagious.He doesn’t claim to stand for anything other than himself. He has views that are aspirational, which are usually unrelatable, but make sense to him, and add even more to his ‘too cool for school’ demeanour.

Even the staunchest of hip hop academia, like J Cole, have admitted that we love trap for the same reasons that we hate trap. It’s fun and on some level we want to care a little less. The sense of self-importance, although usually unjustified, is what it can inspire in others the matter of a few mumbled words.

To be fair ,nobody expects anything different from trap anyway. But as far and wide as emotions in music range, the ones that trap inspire are probably last when it comes to leaving a lasting impression on people. It’s hard to remember Migos Versace, especially from the pool of other trap songs that have spoken about the same thing. Young Thug’s Lifestyle ,was also soon forgotten once people got over trying to make out the lyrics to the song. It took strong rhetoric and displays of language to see hip hop override criticism and make it through the different eras. You cannot help but think that it will take more of something as inspiring to keep trap going, especially as an off branch to hip hop.

In the name of pure unadulterated fun, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the party won’t stop. But just as with the student who doesn’t show any real point of views and ambitions, the future of trap music is in question.