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Even though there are plenty of hip hop purists that want to separate trap from rap, they will always be connected as trap is a sub-genre of rap. Trap music started to gain traction in the early 90s in Southern America; the signifiers of the trap style became an aggressive sound, and equally as aggressive lyrics which primarily focused on drug dealing and drug use.

Instrumentally, trap separated itself from hip hop with heavier basslines, faster time signatures, prominent 808s, layered synths, and for the more experimental trap artists, cinematic strings. Lyrically, trap artists were even more visceral in their rap bars about the inescapable gang and drug lifestyles (hence, trap) than the original gangster rappers. Atlanta became the capital of trap, while Ghetto Mafia, Goodie Mob, Outkast, Dungeon Family and Cool Breeze became the pioneers.

A decade after the inception of trap, artists such as Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Triple 6 Mafia and Young Jeezy started pushing the genre even further and allowing it to branch out into the diverse scene that it is today. Producers also had a pivotal role in the evolution of trap; the likes of Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd and Mike WiLL contributed to the contemporary trap sound that incorporates a dark atmosphere, street culture and a hard-hitting high-octane sound. At the turn of the century, trap not only dominated the airwaves, but it also became commonplace in strip clubs in the south too.

The first wave of trap broke into the mainstream in 2003 with the release of T.I.’s second studio album; it sold over 2 million copies and T.I. received a sync deal with EA sports. After his success, T.I. explained the motivation behind his career; to help people understand the actions of people that come from a less privileged side of life. A similar ethos is carried by the new generation of trap artists who are often misbranded as brash or crass when really, their music is reflective of their lives. In 2005, Young Jeezy entered the US Billboard Charts at number 2 after selling 172,000 copies of his album, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, in the week after its release. It later became a platinum record.

Fast forward to 2012; the trap scene started to merge with the EDM scene as producers and DJs started to weave trap styles into their dance mixes. Many are under the false impression that this was the beginning for trap, and it came along as some new millennial trend, but this is far from the case. In 2021, there are multiple trap sub-genres, even ones as far-reaching as trap metal. The most promising trappers to watch include the likes of Rico Nasty, Nayana Iz, Lil Uzi Vert and Waka Flaka Flame.

$chaff the Prophet – TELEPHONE: The Cosmic Psych-Trap Track You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

$chaff the Prophet burst through the bubblegum pop trend and established his own cosmic bubblegum psych trap niche with his second LP for 2024, PSYCHEDELIC BUBBLEGUM.

The standout single, TELEPHONE, is an electrifying synth-driven kaleidoscopic synthesis of 8Bit, trap, hyperpop, and Owl City-esque electronica. If the viscerally hued sonics of the track don’t ensnare you, $chaff the Prophet’s sticky-sweet approach to painting a neon-lit vignette of a lonely protagonist searching for connection while keeping social life in the palm of her hand hits hard enough to bruise.

The exposition of how easy it is to get “lost in information, pixels and tones” couldn’t hit closer to home now given the hyperconnected nature of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. The artist’s signature arpeggios lend themselves effortlessly well to the playful yet empathy-evoking production, which shows just how far $chaff the Prophet has come since the launch of his debut in 2019. Now 11 LPs deep, his authentic sound has become so cultivated that he deserves to be revered as a pioneer in his own right.

TELEPHONE is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Dani Enli opened the doorway to the RnB Pop pantheon with ‘till the end of time’

After the phenomenal success of her debut single, used to it, singer-songwriter & producer Dani Enli ensured the momentum amassing around her stayed high by releasing her sophomore single, till the end of time. By synthesising future-forward RnB melodies with a pensive trap beat and the sentimentality of pop balladry, Enli opened the doorway to the RnB pop pantheon with the downtempo release which gives every aching word to breathe and resonate over the synths that echo emotion as much as the lyrical poetry.

The bittersweet RnB pop symphony delivers the heart-wrenching epiphany that in the mind and reality of the one that got away, all you will ever be is a memory that fades. Inspired, written, composed and produced following a breakup, the single tenderly explores the transitions between resentment and longing, regret and mourning, proving that nothing is ever black and white; everything lies on a spectrum which Enli profoundly explores with the blissful tonal hues that drift between the progressions in this mellifluously flawless production.

till the end of time reached the airwaves on May 10th; add the single to your Spotify playlists or stream the single on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Shadowed Heights: Ikechi Onyenaka Unpacks the Solitude of Success in his Neo-Trap Single, ‘Eclipse’

Ikechi Onyenaka’s latest single, ‘Eclipse,’ delivers an avant-garde blend of saxophone-laden jazz and sharp trap rhythms, underpinned by the emotional richness of neo-soul. This intrinsically authentic release evolves with each soulful progression, compelling listeners to groove along with Onyenaka’s reflective journey. Through ‘Eclipse,’ he explores the seldom-discussed loneliness accompanying success, challenging the enviable facade often associated with prosperity.

In ‘Eclipse,’ Onyenaka’s artistic versatility shines as he oscillates between rap verses and neo-soul vocal spills, each dripping with unfiltered emotion. The heavy bass and ambient synths create a nostalgic backdrop reminiscent of 90’s neo-soul, while the alto saxophone commands attention, weaving through the composition with soul-stirring authority.

By portraying the stark reality of success through the upbeat, genre-melding soundscape of neo-trap, Onyenaka not only rips up the clichéd narrative of an effortless life at the top but also emphasises the fundamental human need for connection.

Eclipse hit the airwaves on May 3rd, stream the single here now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Chill Hop meets RnB Dream Pop in Eth4n’s emotion-driven release, Daisy

Driven by emotion and experimental innovation, the standout single, Daisy, from Eth4n’s debut EP, Inerrata, is a hazily melodic installation of aural hypnosis that demands you submit to the catharsis from the first note.

With saturated in delay guitars giving the seminal release a vintage tape deck recording feel and the mellow electronic elements rounding out the RnB dream pop/chill hop hybrid instrumentals, Daisy unravels as an intoxicatingly artful release.

By borrowing the serene dream pop timbres of AIKA’s vocal harmonies, the bitter-sweet exploration of how affection gives us a temporary lust for life strikes all the right evocative chords, especially when Eth4n’s effect-laden pseudo-trap vocals enter the mix and inject swathes of dynamism into the vignette of tentative idiosyncratic affection.

The Australian-born, London-based experimentalist may pull inspiration from the likes of Frank Ocean and JPEGMafia, but rather than assimilating their styles, he runs with the influence into brand-new sonic territory that you’ll be compelled to join him in every time you need sanctuary.

Stream Eth4n’s Inerrata EP on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Brikcs shattered boundaries and entered innovation’s nirvana with ‘King’

Brikcs, a visionary from the ethereal edges of music’s evolving landscape, delivered a profound auditory experience in his latest single, King. With a foundation laid by a Mogwai-meets-Portishead neo-classic intro of eloquent keys and phantasmically distorted vocal notes, the track boldly transitions into the dark territories of trap. If you went down the rabbit hole and instead of finding wonderland you entered innovation’s nirvana and met your demons, your trip would come a close visceral second to hitting play on King.

The artistic juxtaposition in King — between harsh, ensnaring bars and the enduring non-lexical harmonies that echo the transcendent terrain of Sigur Rós — crafts a captivating portal to an aural realm defined by authenticity. The single thrives on a blend of ornate classical notes and reverberating electronic effects, creating an installation of unparalleled emotional intensity.

The lyrical assertion of autonomy challenges listeners to disintegrate preconceived labels with every bar dropped. Acting as a nod to how the world attempts to shape us into archetypes, Brikcs resists them all, violently shaking them into the ether of this masterpiece.

Brikcs, an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist now based in Copenhagen, eschews easy classification, melding the raw energy of underground clubs with the refined grandeur of opera houses. King encapsulates his complex musical journey through haunting pianos, ethereal vocals, cerebral rap, and an electro-orchestral crescendo.

Accompanied by an experimental short film, directed by Vasco Alexandre and shot at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the track is not only a music release but a cinematic event, currently making waves in film festivals worldwide.

King was officially released on March 22nd; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Groove and soul intertwined in Ceesa’s hip-hop debut, Special

Ceesa, an emerging talent from Tifton, Georgia, made an unmissable entry into the hip-hop arena with his single ‘Special’, a track that resonates with the rhythm and soul of hip-hop and showcases his unique flair and potential.

‘Special’ opens with an intro that blurs the lines between genres, featuring female backing vocals that are as powerful as they are emotive, layered over gentle melodies reminiscent of progressive house. This fusion sets the stage for what is a genre-bending experience. Ceesa then takes the reins, proving himself as Georgia’s new flow king. His verses are crafted with a finesse that allows the emotions to resonate deeply, making listeners feel the love in this song as if it were their own.

The seamless blend of trap beats with Latin RnB guitars creates a soundscape that captures the irreplicable bliss of being seen as though the other 8.1 billion people in the world fade away. Ceesa’s debut, infused with personal emotion and stylistic innovation, is a testament to his talent and a hint at his promising future in the music industry. For fans of Yvng.Wolfe, KingTrey, and Ivory Scott, ‘Special’ is a must-listen.

Special hit the airwaves on March 12th; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

JMP tore through the façade of fallacy with their latest rap track, Don’t Lie, featuring Zinc and Sofia Kafas

JMP’s latest feat of genre-fluid alchemy, “Don’t Lie,” featuring Zinc and Sofia Kafas, seamlessly fuses trap beats into a melodiously mellow atmosphere. As the lush reverb ebbs and flows, it envelops the listener in a rhythmic embrace, guided by the unique chemistry each vocalist brings to the track.

Sofia Kafas’s soulful voice adds a layer of depth and emotion, contrasting with the grit of the grime-y bars. Their harmonies paint a vivid picture of the narrative at the heart of the song – the detriments of deception. What truly sets “Don’t Lie” apart is its cultural richness; the bilingual verses shatter the monocultural mould, adding an exotic twist to the RnB lyrical rhythms.

Don’t Lie was unveiled as one of JMP’s most dynamic releases to date. The trio of contributors, each with their distinct style, unite under the theme of sincerity and truth. The result is a compelling track that resonates on multiple levels and is a reminder of rap’s capacity for storytelling and emotional depth, making it a standout release in JMP’s repertoire.

Don’t Lie was officially released on February 26th; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

AR Jiggy followed a vibe into unchartered new wave hip-hop waters with ‘4U’

No one rides the new wave of hip-hop smoother than AR Jiggy, as exhibited through the hypersonically hot standout single, 4U, from his new LP, Ratchet Melodic 2, which strangely enough, delivers everything it says on the tin. The scintillating synths mimic the twilight as they glisten in the melodiously wavy production that will instantly get you in the genre-fluid groove of the synthesis of hip-hop, pop, and RnB.

Instead of ticking all the right hip-hop boxes with this seminal release and pandering to antiquated parameters, the East London rapper and singer followed a vibe into unchartered waters and ensured any urban innovation seekers would want to take the plunge time after time. From the precision in his sharp lyrically rhythmic hooks to the instrumental odyssey AR Jiggy puts before you in his tracks, there’s no refuting that he has exactly what it takes to hold dominion over the hip-hop domain in London and beyond.

Ratchet Melodic 2 was officially released on February 15th; stream it in full on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Benzluene reached the top of the trap-metal game with ‘Away’

Benzluene’s latest single ‘Away‘ is an intoxicating synthesis of emo, trap, industrial metal and post-grunge which allows agony to oscillate through the rhythmically seductive atmosphere that descends to the same murky depths as Deftones while bringing in the future of trap metal.

The production, a collaborative effort by flower and @fluffysome, is a masterclass in genre-fluid experimentation; dark, intrepid, visceral, and cutting – ‘Away’ is an auditory exploration of emotional extremes. The sludgy hooks and the constant shifts in vocal style and tone amplify the impact of the lyrics, making each word hit with the force of a bruise.

Benzluene’s vox cruise between softly relayed harmonies and visceral screams, dampened by layers of effects, maintaining a euphonic quality even at their most strident, ensuring the intensity is always delivered in swathes of catharsis.

Even the most eloquent people struggle to relay the pain of a disintegrating relationship, but through the sonic visualisations, that almost primal pain becomes universally understood. ‘Away’ stands as an allegory of agony, expressed through a piercingly unique sonic signature, which cuts to the core of the emotion.

If you cut Away open, you would reveal the anatomy of an alt-rock earworm. It’s a Tour De Force that will resonate with fans of trap metal and beyond.

Stream Away on SoundCloud now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

London’s HBEEE played by his own rules in his viral rap track, Game Over

After teaming up with director Mani J for the official music video for his latest hit, Game Over, one of the hottest UK rappers, HBEEE racked up over 312k streams in the space of a month; the grime track is more than worth the viral hype.

If you can’t stand the superficiality of fake beauty, know how it feels to always have your walls up and live knowing that no one will ever understand the complexities that lie beneath your persona, Game Over will leave you vindicated by the volition.

With a lyrical intellect that rivals George the Poet’s, the hook-rife release will leave you ensnared from the first hit; the contrast between the warm, intricate and melodic instrumentals and female backing vox with HBEEE’s razor-sharp-with-grit cadence, it’s impossible not to be affected by the authentically stylised ingenuity in Game Over.

Stream the official music video on the GRM Daily YouTube channel now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast