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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.

EM$o went from trap life to trap star in his debut LP featuring the standout single, The $urvivor

From trap life to trap star, the Biel/Bienne-born rapper, EM$o, escaped one of the most dangerous places in Central Europe to share his story and show the world what resilience sounds like.

After getting into music in 2016, he homed in on his talent until July 2022, when he released his debut album, Differences, featuring the standout indie emo trap single, The $urvivor, which gives a candid view into his world and how music transformed it.

He is the antithesis of every trap artist who appropriates the lifestyle for sonic street cred. You can hear the imprint of the streets reverberating through his evocative bars, which leave no stone unturned in the melodic indie hip hop track, which is as impactful as it is mellow.

The track in EM$o’s words:

“The $urvivor is based on my experiences on the streets in Biel/Bienne in Switzerland, which is known as one of the most dangerous places in Central Europe. The single describes my mentality while living in that place and what it took to survive. Not many in my circle made it out alive without ending up in jail or hospital.

My parents did what they could to get me out. They taught me how to make smart moves and outsmart the dark mentality of the streets, which left me with a lust for money and power as a teenager. When my usual vices ceased working, I turned to music. I used my trap money to buy equipment, and in 2016 I started writing and recording my songs.”

The $urvivor is now available to stream along with EM$o’s debut album, Differences, on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Srujanika is inspired by those who support her busy journey on ‘For You’

Vowing to be great and to show others that anything is actually possible if you have that fire burning bright when others are napping, Srujanika knows exactly why she does this and opens up her bedroom studio door with her latest aesthetic edit called ‘For You‘.

Srujanika is a Kolkata, India-based indie singer-songwriter who currently studying towards a Health Arts & Science degree while also following her music dreams.

From going to school to saving money to pursuing music, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.” ~ Srujanika

Leading us into current times while she waits for her next project to be mastered, Srujanika sings with such emotion and has dropped a reminder of what she is capable of. With serene class and a vocal depth that is such a wonderful listen, this is a raw track that has a genuine message to uplift yourself with if you have been overly stressed lately.

For You‘ from Kolkata, India-based indie solo singer-songwriter Srujanika is a really lovely single from an authentic artist who does this to make others happy. Her lyrics guide us deep inside her life and show us why she is loved throughout the world, as a musician who always keeps it real and relatable. Filled with honesty and packed with her likeable vocals, this is a dynamic single with plenty to remember.

See this delightful new video on YouTube.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Glitchy art rock meets alt urban pop in Jacobi.e’s latest single, Rcv

Since his 2020 debut, experimentalism has been at the forefront of Jacobi.e’s alt bedroom pop sound. With his aptly dark, melodically off-kilter and tumultuously glitchy first single of 2022, Rcv, the Jamaican American artist and producer, currently residing in LA, fused his rock background with contemporary flavours of the originators, Dominic Fike, Kanye and Yeek.

While some artists manage to make exploring alternative sounds a contrived act of pretension, Jacobi.e instantly affirms that the alchemy came organically through his affinity for a plethora of genres. Pulling all of the contrasting textures together, his vocals are a sticky-sweet vocal point in the wavy track that stands as a testament to his flair as a producer that continues to amass gravitas.

RCV is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Kamanda is a voice of compassionate reason in his latest melodic hip hop single, HETTIE II

Liberia, West Africa-born, Newcastle, Australia-residing artist, Kamanda went into his latest pop meets new wave hip hop single, HETTIE II, with his soul blazing. If you’re anything like me, and it has been a while since you appreciated the irony of our existence, this contemporary feat of lyrically melodic hip hop has all the makings of a playlist staple.

From arresting lyrical lines, “we kill each other just for attention, my legs are getting tired from trying to chase to perfection”, to resonant admissions of depression and anxiety that are more a symptom of our society rather than our individual minds, it felt like Kamanda ran through every source of grief I feel for our contemporary existence.

Kamanda started rapping and writing at the age of nine. In 2022, his ability to open eyes to the psychological pitfalls we blindly plunge into is beyond sharp. And if I’m being completely honest, hearing the yearning for fairness and peace within the uplifting indie production that knows just where to stab with the minor keys choked me up before the first verse ran through.

HETTIE II is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

22Canelo ticks all the boxes with his hip-hop-archetype-less charisma in Checkmark

22Canelo

Six years from his first lauded mixtape, the Bay Area-born artist 22Canelo let his charisma lead the way in his latest new wave hip hop single, Checkmark. In the same way that Lizzo allows her disposition to heighten every track she contributes to, 22Canelo is a master of the eccentric melodic hip hop earworm.

Too cool for nerdy hip hop, too sweetly eccentric for gangster hip hop, too twee for trap, 22Canelo made the sub-genres of hip hop look like painful stereotypes with his psyche, which will leave you just as psyched by the time the outro has rolled around. Forget the X-factor, he’s got the XXX-factor.

Checkmark will officially release on 08/07/2022. Check it out on his website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Crimson REd put us on ‘Red Alert’ in his harbingering hip hop debut 

If it has been a while since you got some truly experimental hip hop in your ears, meet the future of melodic trap in Crimson REd’s debut single Red Alert.

With chiptune synthetics blaring under solid, rhythmic hits of the 808s, you can get an idea of what it would sound like if J. Cole put their bars over DJ Scotch Egg’s scorching 8-bit beats. Reminiscences aside, the Reading PA-born and raised artist came into his own right from the outset.

Everyone has their idea of charisma, but Crimson REd will be in-line with the definition for most hip hop fans that vibe with his kaleidoscopically psychedelic sonic signature. We sincerely hope that there is already a sophomore single locked, loaded and ready to drop.

Red Alert is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

MARC.MADE is good for it in his subversively seductive rap track, CA$hAPP

After his discography racked up over 700k streams, the Detroit-born, Atlanta-raised indie rapper, MARC.MADE is here with his subversively seductive summer track CA$hAPP.

By running his funk-grooved prelude through plenty of warm tape delay, you instantly feel the heat in the expressively dynamic track that allows digital transactions to resonate as affectionate proclamations. If that isn’t a striking mark of ingenuity, I don’t know what is.

The surprises when it comes to MARC.MADE don’t end there either. The full-time scientist, entrepreneur and crypto investor has also co-starred on VH1’s Dating Naked S1-E5 & S1-Wedding Special & CBS’ Face the Truth S1-E12.

Although, the visceral chemistry that breeds between his charisma-dripped bars and the female vocals in CA$hAPP starts to make infinitely more sense with his profession in context.

CA$hAPP is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

London-based artist Sham Parker knows exactly what is missing in his life on ‘Euphoria’

Hiding his insecurities under the blanket of past passion that is unquestionably missed with his ex-lover, Sham Parker wishes she would stop those late night calls as he wants more than that on ‘Euphoria‘.

Sham Parker is a mysteriously anonymous London, UK-based indie RnB/alt-Trap artist and music producer who makes that passionate blend of music that will grab your attention like a lightning storm.

With rasping vocals that will distract you for the better, Sham Parker reminisces about that once-strong romance that is effecting his mindset as he misses it so much, while knowing that it has surely ended permanently.

Euphoria‘ from the shadowy figure of London, UK-based indie RnB/alt-Trap musician and producer Sham Parker is a true story for all those who have felt their fragile heart smash into pieces. Displaying a true insight to a situation that spun out of control and can’t seem to be mended – no matter how much he wants it to – this is a core-shaking message. With truth everywhere, honest raps and a silky smooth beat to turn up loud, this is a song that many of us will certainly relate to.

Love can be so cruel sometimes.

Listen up to this new single on Spotify and see more on the IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Don Favelli rivals Al Pacino in his cinematic new wave rap track, Mobstas Interlude

Don Favelli

Taken from his dynamic hip hop album, COSMIC, which enmeshes old school with the new wave, Don Favelli’s standout hit, Mobstas Interlude, lets the vibe lead the track as much as the 808s that rattle in the minimalist production under Favelli’s dominant rap bars.

With cinematic melodies running against the bars that make it impossible to guess who inspired Favelli to step to the mic in the first place, getting immersed in the atmosphere of Mobstas Interlude is non-optional.

Since making his debut, the San Diego-hailing up-and-coming artist has allowed his lyrical storytelling and cutting introspective to define him. Sonically, he’s all over the urban spectrum. Paying little attention to squeezing his expression into pigeon holes, ultimately aiding an expansive feel to every track.

Check out Don Favelli on his website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

DopeLame is matchless in his melodic trap track, No Competition

Making LA even hotter, one of the most luminary up-and-coming rappers on Cali turf, DopeLame, dropped his latest single, No Competition, on June 17th.

After starting his rap career in 2019, he’s been steadily gaining traction with his distinctive rap flow and his no holds barred lyricism that helps you feel the weight of the conviction in his contemporary melodic trap productions.

With his eyes on the prize of emboldening his listeners with his domineering dissections of ego, existence and social construction, there is always a reason to jump on his new material.

No Competition is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast