Has trap music peaked?
In July 2012, we described trap music’s dance rebirth as a “music trend that’s preparing for lift-off.” Fast-forward to 2013, and its ascension has been nothing short of spectacular. Venues that held dubstep nights are now switching to the trap team, while the ad-libs of Waka Flocka Flame and Juicy J can be heard echoing proudly in dance arenas and clubs across the globe.
The sounds of Houston and Atlanta have certainly captured the imaginations of producers and punters alike, and now the initially niche sound has taken full flight towards the mainstream. In 2012 we wondered whether trap was ‘the new dubstep’, and Resident Advisor note that “the sudden ubiquity of trap mirrors the appearance of wobble-heavy, tear-out dubstep a few years ago.” So where is trap music in 2013, and what is its relation to the current dance scene?
Dance music’s trap leanings follow hip-hop’s continuing infatuation with the South, which has seen the further erosion of geographical boundaries in America. Chief Keef and his GBE squad, with their street-style barbarity and underground aesthetic, have become trap’s fiercest flag-bearers and one of the industry’s most controversial stables. Hailing from Chicago, they’ve appropriated their most obvious influences in Gucci Mane and similar Southern counterparts. Despite his undeniable Harlem swagger, New York’s A$AP Rocky relies heavily on the “chopped and screwed” stylings pioneered by DJ Screw, as well as frequent Southern slang and iconography.
Indeed, this surge has also been recognised by hip-hop’s sturdiest commercial powerhouses, which has seen Southern foundation-layers receive a resurrection of recognition. The remix of Beyonce’s I Been On included verses from legendary members of UGK, The Geto Boys and Screwed Up Click. Meanwhile, Rihanna’s Pour It Up remix featured pivotal trap figures like T.I., Juicy J and Young Jeezy. Southern-style producers such as Young Chop and Mike WiLL Made It are quickly becoming rap’s go-to men for club bangers.
Production extraordinaire Kanye West has largely traded his classic soul-sampling sound for the brooding heaviness of singles like Mercy and Birthday Song. It’s clear that he realises the power of dance music’s trap alliance, as he not only appeared at one of TNGHT’s gigs, but also signed Hudson Mohawke to the production wing of his G.O.O.D. Music label. Meanwhile, Yeezy’s labelmate Pusha T has jumped onstage with producer Salva to perform his famed Mercy remix, which still stands as a staple track in trap and bass music sets.
The ‘EDM trap’ movement has also been acted upon by the dance music’s biggest brands across the globe. Ministry of Sound in Australia recently released the This Is… Trap compilation, which places the likes of 2Chainz and Lil Wayne alongside Luminox and What So Not. After a series of rambunctious shows in Australia, Flosstradamus jetted to Miami to spearhead a ‘Trapped’ stage at Ultra Music Festival in the company of Dillon Francis, Nadastrom and Baauer. From these facts, it’s easy to see that dance music’s initial flirtation with Southern rap has now become a full-blown affair.
Of course, EDM trap’s most recognisable moment arrived with the surprise spawning of Baauer’s Harlem Shake meme. Initially released on Diplo’s Mad Decent label in 2012, the track became a viral sensation that swept the globe relentlessly earlier this year. Although its popularity could perhaps be more properly attributed to the mind-boggling amount of unorthodox twerking/dancing, it was enough to propel Baauer’s track to Number 1.