The short answer to the question of when did trap music start? Is the 1990s. The hip hop sub-genre cropped up in some of Atlanta’s poorest neighbourhoods; even the name of the genre itself is indicative of its origins. Houses, where crack and other drugs were peddled and produced, were known as trap houses, i.e. inescapable.
Hopefully, this brief glimpse into the outset of trap is already allowing you to see that the genre is so much more than extensive use of autotune and edgy lyrics. Trap gave a voice to the people that have only known the harshest side of systematic injustice. It was never supposed to be relatable to the comfortable masses; it was always supposed to be a way for artists to express their experiences of prejudice and oppression.
A Short History of the Trap Genre
The Dungeon Family Collective were amongst the first to use the word trap but the true pioneers are fairly hard to pin down as the uprising of trap happened shortly after the rise of gangster rap, which also exposed the grittier side to gang life – instead of using poetic and political discourse. However, there are a few notable differences between gangsta rap and trap; the main one being the tendency to divert from traditional hip hop verses and use darker and harsher timbres for the instrumentals. A few of the names that get bound around in relation to the invention of trap include 2 Chainz, Gucci Maine and Migos.
After trap music found its roots in Atlanta, it spread across Southern America before receiving notoriety in Latin America, Europe and Asia. The genre saw its peak in the US in 2010, while it took the rest of the world to catch up on the trend.
The intended ugliness of trap may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the genre is here to stay – that is until it does what genres always do – evolve with the times. With the increased accessibility of music software technology, there are fewer barriers and gatekeepers to the music industry, meaning that musicians from all walks of life can have an impact on the airwaves – if they have the talent for it – and many of them do.
Trap music is just as much of a revolution as the original uprising of hip hop in the Bronx. If it doesn’t resonate with you, recognise that as a privilege rather than looking down upon the artists giving a no holds barred account on economic crisis and instability just because they do so in an abrasive style. Because it may seem like trap music embraces capitalism, but if you read between the lines, you’ll find it to be motivational neoliberal pragmaticism.
You will find plenty of the best up and coming trap artists on our trap music blog; we have championed many of the most luminary trap artists from across the globe, including Gud Cyrus, Yung Rager, Young Monte and TREELOCK.