My listening time is very important to me…. Reflective in every way! I respect the moment
greatly because I know my mind is absorbing it all, processing every melody and groove. I grew
up listening to traditional Hiphop, Gospel and Jazz. I aim to listen and play only beautiful music.
Beautiful in every sense. For the last three or four years, I’ve always had an aversion for the new
generation of HipHop and “Trap Music”. More so I couldn’t understand how the art that I so
dearly love, has descended to such simple, repetitive drum and rhythmic patterns, and basic
lyrical content. I began to question my perception of music and art as a whole. I then began to
think about Trap music’s influence on pop culture and the current generation. The social
message embodied in this genre is so relevant. Out of all the genres one is exposed to, Trap
Music would be most likely to reveal the current state of pop culture amongst the youth, their
tastes, and preferences and basically “what the kids are checking out”.

Needless to say I’ve developed a ‘special love’ for Trap Music.

Listen on and read further.

The structure of a Trap song is highly identifiable, and rather common. The pulse is contagious.
I find it impossible not to move when I hear trap. It’s a recipe that seems to be tried and tested.
The bounce intensifies with the exploration of triplets against the four over four feel. The beat
almost swings, you feel the second and fourth beat clearly (that’s where the clap/snare plays).
That’s what makes you move to the groove. There are certain elements that have to be present
in order for a Trap song to be clearly identifiable as Trap. The driving 808s. Basslines that take
control of your body, low ends that you didn’t know about. The 808s usually play a vital role in
relationship to the Hi Hats. You can feel the pulse with just the two. Trap Hats are hypnotic. The
patterns and sequences of each instrument is generally repetitive. After the first sixteen bars the
form of the song doesn’t alter too much. One of my favourite techniques of this art is the auto-
tune. It’s a production tool that allows vocalists to explore their voice and deliver chops that
aren’t possible without it. We haven’t heard some of our favourite rappers without auto-tune.
These are just essential elements that make the music what it is.

Trap is an extension of hiphop. A few years ago Trap music was a Hip-Hop sub-genre of EDM
(Electronic Dance Music). Trap music today is very commercial. Hiphop was not commercial
during the first years of its establishment. It was actually quite frowned upon. People knew
about HipHop but it was never acknowledged by the western world as good music up until
now. Trap is what most of us hear on the radio, tv’s, memes, etc. And more importantly, it
forms the backbone of ideologies of some musical culture in societies. I wonder if anyone
would ever popped a Xany or lit a Joint if we didn’t hear about it in the music we listen to. Trap
music and drug abuse go hand in hand. It is not difficult to spot a trap star because the culture
is their identity. Most of the time the lyrical content is highly unapologetic regardless of how
raw or offensive it is. The mic in the studio becomes the ultimate tool for the MC’s expression.
Trap music has evolved its own culture along the way. Full body tattoos, high class street
fashion, jewellery, drugs, women, money, cars and brands are all essential ingredients to a trap
star life.

Jewellery is such an interesting element of Trap artists. It resembles much more than just wealth
and fame. It carries a sense of victory and triumph over the struggle. Several decades ago,
African American slaves endured absolute torture during the years of enslavement. One of the
first tokens that come to mind regarding slavery are chains, chains of bondage triumphing over
freedom. Chains, money and material items are a huge part of the culture today. It’s not only a
symbol of growth and survival but also a representation of society coming full cycle. Evolving
from a people donning symbols of injustice and inhumanity, to a people proudly displaying the
same symbols, now resembling self-value and determination.

One of the strongest aspects of trap are adlibs. It’s a rappers face on the track. This is when the
artist’s style fully realised. As the audience, we get to sense how they’re feeling the groove, and
part of their character and personality is exposed in the process. Adlibs are like lyric chops -
Equivalent to a drummer playing a fill, or a guitarist playing a cool line. Each rapper has their
unique set of adlibs, it’s part of their arsenal. I never thought I’d ever hear a grown ass man
screaming “SKRRRRRT SKRRRRRRRT”, “SWERVE”, “WOAH!” But adlibbing plays such a vital role
in the sound. Once again there’s often a sense of the triplet feel. Screams, yells, random words
and any type of sound you can think of. Adlibs also establish the energy for the verse or the

A few years ago I was very fond of a genre called Trap Muzik (as I know it). This was originally a
sub-genre of EDM. It had all the elements of electronic dance music, such as heavy kicks, bright
and blearing lead synths, crazy low end bass, etc. it introduced the feel of HipHop in a form
that was a lot more accessible to people who listened to EDM. And this encompassed a large
population. At first there weren’t many rappers laying vocals over that as it was more musically
inclined revolving around the build-up and drop. Producers would often sample a vocal clip
which they used to add to the build-up and create rhythmic flow. You’d hear a quick phrase in
the last bar before the drop. Some of my favourite Trap Muzik artists include Flosstradamus, Dj
Carnage, Bro Safari, Dillon Francis, Dj Snake and several others. The sound has since progressed
and developed.

The progression of commercial music is undoubtedly intriguing. The journeys of Jazz music and
Trap appear to be somewhat paralleled. Jazz originally began with African American slaves
developing work songs, worship songs and songs expressing real pain, (The Blues). With the
passage of time, music and culture developed and took over the commercial market. Much like
Trap music, the genre eventually became westernized and artists of all race groups emerged,
not just African Americans. Jazz was the popular music at one stage. But it was also frowned
upon at first. When Jazz cats started playing Bepop, it took time to catch on because it was
high energy music. But once it did, it took over the scene. I think of Trap much like Bepop. A
few of the great jazz musicians were also serious drug addicts, womanisers and lived fast-paced
lives. Much like Trap, some Trap artists today I think are keeping the “HipHop cannon” moving
forward. I’ve learnt to appreciate artists such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Horace Silver,
Duke Ellington and artists such as Young Thug, Travis Scott, 2 Chains, Quavo, and Gucci Mane,
on the same level because of their contribution to the genre’s “Cannon”.
I don’t think “trap bars” are a thing. There’s generally not much genius behind the lyrical
content but the deliveries are genius. What interests me a whole lot is the articulation of some
hooks and verses. I listen to Trap MC’s as if they’re Jazz horn players. The spaces they use, the
rhythmic ideas, the use of dynamics, the vocal ranges. Trap verses to me often sound like a
tenor saxophone solo. Although the melodic patterns of a jazz solo and a Trap verse are on
two different scales, the thinking can be very similar in my opinion. When I speak about
articulation, I’m referring to each syllable and the way it comes out. The timing and feel of what
their saying. Some MC’s ooze control on the mic. They’re aware of their capabilities and their

I’ve learnt to really love Trap music. I might not be comfortable with the essentials of this music,
and everything that it embodies, nor the environmental space that it occupies, but it has
become a really beautiful canvas to me, similar to a painting in a gallery. If you take a moment
to relish it, this means you are marvelled by it, it intrigues you. You might not know enough
about fine art to understand some of the tones and textures but the fact that it occupied your
time, means that there’s something about it that you are attracted to. Being a painting, you
can’t tell it how you feel, and neither can you change anything about it. If it doesn’t appeal to
you, you walk on by, but if it does captivate you, all you can do is enjoy it. This is how I’ve been
listening to Trap. I must say I’m a real novice to this genre and by no means a fundi on the
subject, but I think it’s revolutionary, thus demanding my attention. As Artists and musicians our
role is to make relevant music which relates to and depicts the current era. Trap music and Trap
stars do just that… all too well!

Trap music is a highly social music. It can appeal to most groups of people. Right now, Trap
culture is most influential. Musically it is fairly simple. But the existence of trap music culture in
the Music industry is so strong. The intention behind a trap drum loop is to make us feel the
pocket in the group, but also just feel cool while we dance. Almost every few months a new
dance move associated with the Trap genre, originates and goes viral. Being a jazz musician, I
find it so interesting how such an uncomplicated concept can literally take over the
Music/Cultural scene. The lyrics are simple, the production is simple, and I think it’s the
understanding behind the sound that becomes everything. I grew up on the music and ideas of
HipHop, so trap seems logical to conceptualize. Even though most artists sound similar, it’s also
very hard to judge trap stars and producers because absolutely everyone is accepted and
artists can feel free to explore themselves.

So resources and free creative reign? What could an artist want more?



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