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RA: Real trap shit?

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RA: Real trap shit?

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  2. 2. The fastest growing sound in North America has superstars, a slew of hungry, scene-jumping adopters and a whole host of questionable social issues to go with it. Real trap shit?
  3. 3. "Trap is the new dubstep." That's a phrase I've heard bandied around more and more lately, and while it's not an entirely accurate comparison, it's not off the mark either. Defined by its rigid formula of frantic 808 worship and bombastic basslines, it's been latched onto by largely the same audiences that have been eating up American dubstep and moombahton over the past few years. Put simply, trap is one of the fastest growing sounds in North America. Chances are, whether you know it or not, you've come across it in some form. Everyone from underground heads to mainstream dubstep DJs are throwing those skittery snares underneath, well, everything. And, like any genre that has emerged in the past few years, it has its bona fide stars like Baauer and Flosstradamus, a slew of hungry, scene-jumping adopters and a whole host of questionable social issues to go with it. "Trap" is hip-hop slang for a crack house, and is often traced back to Atlanta. It certainly got more popular off the back off American rapper T.I.'s Trap Muzik album in 2003, but some ascribe its origins even further back to artists like Three 6 Mafia and Houston's DJ Screw. The latter artist pioneered the psychedelic, ultra-slow "chopped and screwed" effect, in which he slowed down tracks to accentuate trippy time-stretched snares and hats. Meanwhile, the southern rap that emerged in the wake of the Outkast boom in the early 2000s was colourful, synth-heavy and bombastic, a tradition that lives on in trap. But arguably the most direct progenitor to what's at hand in 2012 is young Virginia producer Lex Luger. Responsible for Waka Flocka Fame's 2010 rap anthem "Hard in da Paint" and a number of other hits for prominent rappers in the past two years, particularly Three 6 Mafia's Juicy J, Luger's productions are almost a caricature in their maximalism. The danceable groundwork for these tracks is laid by enormous bass thuds and cheap, snarling synth horns, like a satanic Mannie Fresh. Luger's productions fast became a staple in DJ sets around the world, from innumerable American acts to UK DJs like Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and Oneman. They were also widely imitated. Clearly Luger had tapped into something. "This is something like the culmination of years and years of hip-hop... and dance music came together. It didn't happen because someone had a master plan, it just happened naturally," claimed Mad Decent associate Dirty South Joe in a recent documentary called Certified Trap. "The first real indicator that this was more than just the casual incorporation of a few drums was when Flosstradamus released their remix of Major Lazer's 'Original Don' early this year," says Matt Owchar, a DJ and promoter in Vancouver. He runs a night called #FVDED, a weekly dubstep-cum-trap night that incorporates trap's imagery and sloganeering in its promotions and has booked a number of bigger trap DJs. "It didn't really hit home... until SXSW [2012]. My whole perception of the SXSW experience was guided by the idea of finding the 'next hot shit,' as a DJ and talent buyer. Within a day of being there I think I heard that remix about five times in one day. Guys like Salva, Lunice
  4. 4. Uz and LOL Boys dropping it, then Porter Robinson, Skrillex, Kill The Noise..." In Owchar's list of artists one can already see the overlap between bass music, hip-hop and dubstep beginning to emerge. Flosstradamus definitely deserve credit for helping to establish trap as a force on US dance floors, moving towards southern hip-hop in their own productions before they used trap tropes on their EP Total Recall to create a hybrid of electro, trance and hip-hop (which they called "post- apocalyptic trap"). Their music takes hold of the most extreme impulses of US club music—the brutal wallop of dubstep and the blaring chords of trance and electro house—and solders them onto hip-hop, a blueprint that many have slavishly followed. Other key figures include popular mixtape host Trap-A-Holics, whose memorable DJ drops (like "real trap shit") have become slogans sampled by acts like Flosstradamus and used frequently in tracks as a sort of trap signature, and RL Grime, whose squelchy "Trap on Acid" places familiar trap clichés in an acid house context and was recently co- opted by megastar Pitbull. Then there's the mysterious Uz, allegedly a dance music veteran in disguise. His online communications are spoken almost entirely in Unicode symbols (example: "ĐЯØPPIИ₲ ϺΫ ИЄШ ZЄDŽ ƉЄ∆Ɖ ЯЄϺIX ∆₮ H∆ЯƉ ƧƱϺϺЄЯ")— another aesthetic preference of trap—and his endless stream of tracks on SoundCloud are simply numbered parts of a series entitled "Trap Shit." Uz's tracks are essentially sketches composed of the same bucking basslines, cascading snares and all manner of silly vocal samples, merely arranged in different combinations. His work illustrates the potential for rhythmic complexity in trap—the timestretching and other effects on the drums are close relatives to jungle—but the music utilizes much of the same devices as the worst of lowest common denominator club music. Barcelona's Sinjin Hawke is another interesting case study. Already a headlining artist off the back of one strong EP on Belgian label Pelican Fly, Hawke's impressive live set is near-virtuosic, welding R&B melodies and triumphant builds to trap structures. Bolstered with flamboyant and decisive melodies inspired by film scores and '80s synth music, his reinterpretation of hip-hop feels personal and idiosyncratic. When I met him earlier this year, he expressed enthusiasm but unfamiliarity with the world of dance music after spending years immersed in hip-hop, a fascinating angle for a rising star playing at festivals alongside acts like Scuba and Claude VonStroke.
  5. 5. Baauer And of course, there's Baauer. Though in my review of "Harlem Shake" earlier this year I questioned the track's substance and worthiness as an anthem, there's no denying that the young producer has a formidable grip on dynamics, tension and sound design. Others have noticed—even Hyperdub boss Kode9 has been heard playing his tracks lately. In addition to "Harlem Shake" on Jeffree's (a Mad Decent sublabel that has become a trap outpost of sorts), he's recently released a 12-inch on LuckyMe with tracks that see him exploring the buffed textures of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice to powerful effect. "I don't think you can credibly have a discussion about this whole 'trap' thing without talking about 'Harlem Shake,'" says Owchar. He's right. It became one of the year's most ubiquitous tracks shortly after appearing on Rustie's Essential Mix in April. Its appeal is simple: a cartoonish horn riff honks over pooling quakes of low-end, seizing on the hypnotically repetitive basslines that make Lex Luger's tracks so floor-friendly. In its wake, mainstream-baiting DJs like Dillon Francis, Mimosa and others have all started incorporating trap originals, as well as countless bootleg remixes (highlights this writer has heard so far: Darude's "Sandstorm" and Pink Floyd's "Money") which underline the formulaic and gimmick- driven underbelly of the sound. The glut of trap edits mirrors the wave of unofficial "dubstep remixes" that were ubiquitous two years ago. I recently made the pilgrimage to #FVDED for one of their biggest nights yet, a double- header of Baauer and Uz that had a nightclub near-capacity on a Wednesday night. That's not always an easy thing to do in Vancouver. Waiting in the extremely long line put me privy to a number of conversations in the vicinity, college-age kids discussing their favourite dubstep tracks; who belonged in the trap sphere; who was dubstep and so forth. The opening DJs, Expendable Youth (a duo that includes Owchar) played a blistering set of trap beats mixed seamlessly with the harshest, squelchiest of dubstep, and Uz mixed his jackhammer throb in with deafening electro house. The aggressive audience moshed and jumped to the music in much the same fashion as I've witnessed at mainstream dubstep shows, signaling that the mentality behind trap is much the same: mindless, physically punishing dance music. Trap exists in the UK as well, though it's often taken on a different form. UK artists seem more content to fold in elements of hip-hop into their productions while retaining their own distinct personalities. This creates a parallel wave of music that's not quite trap but shares its stylistic and rhythmic signifiers. Rustie's Glass Swords was labeled UK bass by many, but listen closely to a track like "City Star" and it's essentially southern hip-hop, snares jiggling like gelatinous blobs with loud, obnoxious horns. Meanwhile, former Vex'd member Kuedo released his first full-length Severant, an elegiac and contemplative synth album heavily informed by John Carpenter and Vangelis, but draped with hyperactive trap-rap snares throughout. While neither of these records are trap, both are sonically sympathetic with the movement.
  6. 6. TNGHT Meanwhile, Warp signee Hudson Mohawke has teamed up with Montreal's Lunice (a fellow member of Glasgow's colourful LuckyMe crew) to begin the TNGHT project, which this year released an EP of larger-than-life anthems with a self-proclaimed goal to make beats for actual rappers. The release was easily one of 2012's most hotly anticipated, and its tracks have been in heavy rotation for all manner of DJs. Its genre-crossing reception has pushed trap even further into the spotlight. And so did their "Mission Statement" mix earlier this year. Labelled "trap-rave," it featured plenty of their own productions mixed with like-minded tracks from Chief Keef, Waka Flocka Flame and several other artists whose styles of hip-hop have contributed to the rise of trap. Any emergent genre is full of inevitable bandwagoners, yet trap seems defined by it rather than merely affected by it. This is even more of an "internet genre" than dubstep or moombahton, music popularized through Twitter and SoundCloud. As a result, most of the people making and enjoying it have no real connection with the original trap-rap scene—even though they gladly utilize its violent tropes. "A lot of these kids genuinely love straight-up trap music, they're just expressing that enthusiasm for it in a way that relates to them—a joyful, partying, affectionately ironic way... the appropriation issues can be viewed more like unfortunate byproducts of meta-modern kids being inspired by something outside of their direct world, the same impulse which drives this generation's identity-defining tools such as Tumblr," explains Jamie Teasdale, who produces as Kuedo.
  7. 7. Irony is as big a part of trap at this point as the snares. It's hard to tell what's supposed to be serious and what's merely humour: Machinedrum has been beginning his sets with the plodding "TRAP FUNERAL," a track that intones "trap" repeatedly to a funeral march melody. He also recently uploaded a "trap remix" of the Batman theme, a 2-second track consisting of a single Trapaholics sample. The jokes are made all the more confusing by the fact that you're bound to hear stuff you could conceivably call trap in his DJ sets anyway. Part of what makes trap so objectionable in the eyes of some is its appropriation for populist ends. What made the original trap so gripping was its gritty drama, its "realness." "[Trap now is] largely a middle class movement that has borrowed not only the musical devices of that form, but also taken the cultural symbols, including the name itself... [which is] intensely problematic," explains Teasdale. "They're appropriating social references totally alien to them, sampling lyrics about crack houses, machine gun fire, and most of all, the name of the music itself. Crack house music. That's the thing that's bugging people." The proliferation of artists and entities operating under the trap banner means that some are already quick to distance themselves. "I'm not communicating with this EDM-trap scene at all," says Teasdale, "yet people are beginning to assume I'm a part of it. That's jeopardizing my ability to play the rap music I love, as to do so would be seen as participating in this self-organizing EDM-trap scene. I'm never going to be a consensual member of it. It now refers to a college party soundtrack, one that's very close to being a successor to brostep." The sudden ubiquity of trap mirrors the appearance of wobble-heavy, tear-out dubstep a few years ago. And, with it, the building up of barriers between the "good" and the "bad," the "original" and the "new" has been equally as quick. It's impossible to say whether the rapidly-swelling bubble will burst or maintain, but the growing backlash by both fans and artists alike is telling. "A great deal of this music is very good, and the best tracks totally deserve all the plays and celebration they've received," Teasdale begins, "and people like TNGHT have good and fully informed artistic intentions. They're not trying to create this scene. It's just unfortunate that those who are wishing to create a genre [around trap] haven't been more sensitive to the social issues nested around it."
  8. 8. Words / Andrew Ryce Published / Thu, 1 Nov 2012 Share this feature 2K 244 1.6kLikeLike 01 / 78 comments Previous 1 2 3 Next
  9. 9. Viewing 1 - 6 of 78 comments BlueprintEvents join the conversation: DrinkBettrWater Wed, 28 May 2014 Reply Spasena_I Mon, 18 Mar 2013 Reply Spasena_I Mon, 18 Mar 2013 Reply Spasena_I Mon, 18 Mar 2013 Reply 1 Mr.E. Tue, 12 Mar 2013 Reply gregoryjohnston Wed, 6 Feb 2013 Reply From a genre synthesis perspective I don't think there's much wrong with the blend. I feel kind of queasy though about real hip hop and rap being "re- contextualized" into party music for mostly white dudes. You can call it musical inspiration, but it's bigger than that...cherry-picking elements of a gangsta rap culture that you think are chill without paying any notice to their larger cultural framework or where it came from is appropriation...which isn't "sampling"...it's stealing. also, what's wrong with new, sub and interrelating genres of music? surely like art, it is in constant developement and reinvention.some people need to chill and broaden their perspective. .. social issues subject is stupid. Why do some people get so touchy and pretentious? Inspiration and roots can come from anything. A lot of good stuff comes from dark and unpleasant backgrounds. Also, there seems to be a lot of hypocrisy around the alikness and repetitiveness within trap music. House music is so repetitive, and sometimes throughout a set the rhythms/beats barely shift. yet I don't see people being so anti house. great article, also the grafix looks hot and unique, thanks for the effort! I did a 15 minutes Trap Video Mix, maybe you guys can check it and let me know how you like it :-) Thanks youtube com/watch?v=7eNn-hSLa10 the route from which trap was realised should be recognised by those who wish to question it's substance and sustainability + - + - + - + - + - + - Cancel Post
  10. 10. 02 / #211529 Other features EPROM: Metamusic Unleaded physical power and giddy destruction: It's the best way to describe the sound of one of North America's rising stars. RA's Andrew Ryce explains. Blawan: Working the long nights In advance of his set at RA's night at The Warehouse Project next month, we got inside the head of one of the most exciting techno producers in the world. Jeff Mills: Purpose Maker The techno pioneer talks about spac with RA's Todd L. Burns. 04 / Previous 1 2 3 Next More features
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