So I know that I didn't actually witness the day trap music died, but I know when I mourned for it. It was Friday, September 19. I had just finished working a 10 hour shift and I had two choices: go to bed and finish Scandal or turn up. Olivia could wait. It was time to dab on fleek and be lit (If you thought that was an actual sentence black people say, please stop reading and reexamine your life. Quickly).
The party was bumping. People were dancing and even though I wasn't drinking, I was still killing that money dance. As I'm grooving, my friend looks at me says, "Yo, the next DJ is gonna play trap music." Hell yes. From G-funk to gangsta rap to crunk, trap was by far my favorite genre of rap music. Trap gave us T.I., Young Jeezy and many others at their most charismatic, dangerous and yes, vulnerable selves. This was the music of my high school years, bobbing my head to the loud, bombastic music while learning of the harsh realities of the "trap." You know, the corner, the need to hustle any kind of drugs, or anything really, to survive, and realizing how the trap is a self-fulfilling cycle sex, drugs, prison and death.
So I eagerly anticipated my trap music. My elbows were poised, ready to start bowing and rapping my favorite lines. Maybe he would play some of that Thug Motivation, or "24's"? I might even hear OJ Da Juiceman. Then the music began, the hard booming bass of trap creeping up. But I heard something else. Were those synthesizers? Was that Steve Aoki? Why the hell did this place just turn into a European lights club? I thought that somebody had made a mistake.
My friend from Los Angeles joined us at the party. She was talking about LA, movie production, music festivals and then...she mentioned trap music. I looked at her skeptically. I knew that she wasn't the biggest fan of rap music, let alone such a specific sub-genre of it, but perhaps her plan was to pleasantly surprise me. Nah. The trap music she so lovingly spoke of was an unholy union between trap and EDM. AKA, today's version of trap music.
Now when I look up trap music in YouTube, you know what comes up? Three hour mega-mixes from people with names like Grizzly Bear and Carnage and Flosstradamus. Instead of men and women holding up cash with police lights in the background, it is now blond ladies at a rave with sunglasses, making a V with their fingers with a tongue in between them. After going to the 7th tab, I gave up trying to find the "old" trap music.
Then it dawned on me. Trap music no longer existed or at least, the one I grew up with. It went by a new moniker. Old. School. Trap. I had flashes of old people always saying, "this isn't music," and "Now in the 90's that was real rap!" Maybe I just transformed into one of those dudes. When I put in old school trap, only two videos showed up for it, and they are part of a mix with 2pac, Biggie, and other rap artists that have NOTHING to do with trap music.
From all of this, one would think that I actually hate new age trap. On the contrary, I kinda like it. And the reason why is because I can dance to it. Not jump and pump my fist and molly whopp like I saw when I went to ONE rave and ONE club in Williamsburg. Trap has melody and bass behind it. So I am cool with it. But why does it have to be called trap? It could have been called anything else. Literally anything else. From T.E.D.M. to LoudAssMusic to who gives a shit, it would have been billed as a new music for the youth, a unique fusion of EDM and hip-hop.
Indeed, trap music continues a disturbing trend in the subjugation and appropriation of ideas or artistic expressions that originated within African-American culture by the mainstream. From twerking, to the Harlem Shake and tone-deaf views on the "booty," trap music is another art form that gets swallowed up and replaced by a new form, which takes its name and everything that came with it. I understand that these DJ's are probably paying homage to an art from that they like and respect, an art that they wanted to re-introduce in a new way. And that some of the originators of trap music like T.I., UGK, Jezzy and others are still profiting from this. But, as I sit here listening to another "old school," trap joint, I dread the day my son or daughter runs into my arms to tell me about this new artist from Sweden, Rocker Schnitzel, who sings in a high register, with accordion players, introducing the real rap music. Oh, trap music. You will be missed.
P.S. For you new kids on the block or you old timers, here are some of my favorite trap music tracks. Long Live Trap Music.
Doin My Job- T.I.- My favorite song on this standout album. He checks his posturing and bravado at the door, and decides to be vulnerable for 4 glorious minutes
Air Forces- Young Jeezy- Jeezy at his best
Bricks- Gucci Mane- The Entreprenurial Side of Trapping
Make the Trap Say Aye- OJ Da Juiceman- A cornball dude, a cornball song but too much damn fun
SpottieOttieDopaliscious- OutKast- Not exactly trap music, but certainly makes references to it and is just a good ass song.