You have probably come across trap artists while turning the dial on your radio or scrolling through your Spotify feed, whether or not you’re a music guru.
You might not know what the definition of trap music is, but you probably won't go mistaking it for twangy country hits or old-school hip-hop artists like Notorious B.I.G. or Tupac Shakur.
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What is trap music, exactly? Trap music is probably not the genre your parents were into unless they were him in the early 90s hip-hop/DJ scene. Little might they know how trap music has rooted itself in our culture or that trap has been growing more popular ever since.
As times have changed and culture has evolved, so have music, DJs, and modern artists. With that change, we've seen whole genres emerge from the musical ethos. We've also witnessed the forking of hundreds of popular music “sub-genres.”
Trap music definition continues to evolve and change with time. Hidden sub-genres can be found while digging through sites like SoundCloud like “Jersey Club” and “Trap Step.”
Trap music has many variations. In general, its sound is based around multilayered thin or thick textured monophonic drones. The most common descriptor for trap music, in short, is a grimy melody, with a side of heavy 808 kick drums, rhythmic snares, hi-hats, double-time or triple-time, and a variety of synthesized symphonic bass sounds.
The sub-genre is hard-hitting. Trap songs usually have a tempo of around 70 or a BPM of 140. This style has seemingly begun to run the world of music.
Trap music can be “hip-hop” or “EDM influenced,” lyrical or non lyrical. It is most commonly fit for a club or party atmosphere of a filthy, nasty, and dirty nature.
Here's a hip-hop trap song for the memories. “Workin' on a weekend like usual, Way off in the deep end like usual.” Drake opens up with his usual lyrical flow.
Drake always has a story to tell, and he tells it how it is, never afraid to speak his mind. These two top hip-hop artists come together perfectly, supplying the beat, lyrics, and street attitude, with a taste of stardom.
“Haven't done my taxes, I'm too turnt up.” His lyrics match the vibe, making this one of the most popular hip-hop trap songs to date.
Future takes the spotlight from there, switching up the beat with cranks and deep flow. His style is trap music definition-changing. Future manages to transition the song in a new direction that somehow matches up perfectly. This is a usual style for him and something he's uniquely talented at.
GTA's remix of Rick Ross – Still Moving Bass is great if you need to set your alarm for something that will have you running out of the bed and straight to the shower. GTA's remix is the best out of many, and that's saying something. GTA has even outdone Rick Ross's original with this true trap banger.
This track is dirty and hard-hitting as usual for the artist. GTA knows how to drop a track that will get your blood pumping. The wonky countdown, hype buildup, and laser-Esque beat, alongside Rick Ross's tenacious vocals, will have you feeling 10 feet tall while you're striding with the tempo.
Keep your arms in the air. GTA is an underrated artist, and this is an underrated track that deserves more attention. Still Moving Bass is a fitting name for a track worth leaving on repeat to rock to the drop over and over.
Dr. Dre – The Next Episode (San Holo Remix) is a dance-trap hit by an EDM artist who electronic music lovers run to for consistent bangers. The best thing about old hip-hop remixes is they're relatable for a large crowd. They bring people together through likened hip-hop memories, clicks, pops, and kicks.
The Next Episode is the perfect song for a trap remix because it hits that reminiscent soft spot for hip-hop listeners. You'll be nodding your head and swaying your shoulders as you dance to the beat, singing the lyrics and catching glances from your friends doing the same.
“I'm like hey what's up hello.” This Crankdat remix of Fetty Wap's infamous Trap Queen puts you in that sweet spot between feel-good hip-hop anthem and future-influenced synth. This one is great for late-night drives and parties, with unforgettable lyrics and an underrated beat.
Trap Queen was a viral song in 2015 that could be heard everywhere from clubs to street corners where people were bumping the record on subs that made your body vibrate. His lyrics find a place in your head and burrow there. Street people found similarities in the track, and casual listeners got hooked by the modern trap-influenced lyrics.
The best thing about these old songs reinvented by EDM artists is that they bring people together. Crankdat brings an uplifting vibe to this song. There's appeal there for a large audience who have an appreciation for EDM and hip-hop alike. Listen for yourself and see if you don't appreciate the revamped sound and new trap music definition.
Heard the original and loved it? Sorry to break it to you, but this remix blows it out of the water. What can be said about this TroyBoi remix? Another hit by a reputable trap artist with a cult following. TroyBoi never ceases to impress. This artist is the master of remixes. He puts a twist on every track.
Deep synths, claps, and street lyrics make the persona of the artist come alive. “Wrist wrist wrist wrist wrist wrist.” You might as well put on an expensive watch and diamond chain. This beat is fresh, the theme is visceral, and its style holds to the evolving trap music definition.
Ending the song, TroyBoi hits you with some high synth that counters the bass beat and a lyrical countdown, twisting up the track with his minted aesthetic. Funky, weird, and altogether unstoppable, TroyBoi will go down as one of the best “EDM trap” producers of his generation.
What So Not & RL Grime – “Tell Me” opens up with a dreamy synth sequence that builds slow and light, applying What So Not's classic sound to draw you in for the hook.
This trap song is uplifting and feel-good, with kicks and snare and lyrics that elevate you. RL Grime brings the heat, as usual, adding bass and heaviness to a light-hearted symphonic beat. You feel like you are floating on clouds as the lyrics carry you.
When these two artists collaborate, they compliment each other and always go hard. This is the perfect EDM-trap song for a long car ride, a live show, or just kicking back with friends. “I'm coming baby, coming baby, tell me, tell me.” These are lyrics that speak right to you, nostalgic, simple, and clean. Save this one in your playlist because you're going to want to listen more than once.
Here's a track that drags you in from the start, making you feel like somebody threw a lasso around you and started dragging you toward the speaker.
In this case, the lasso is the hook, and UZ knows how to use his sound design as leverage that won't let you escape the hype. UZ – Trap Shit V13 is seen by many as the best trap song of 2013.
“Bass” is, of course, the lyric that stands out, and it counters the beat perfectly, slowly building up and dragging you in. The xylophone kicks in next, catching you off guard with a bouncy rhythm that blends right in with the deep, urban trap lyrics.
The lyrics tune-up from there as the progression peaks, piquing your senses and raising blood pressure. You might as well be on the stage right next to UZ and staring down at the wave of a massive crowd of fans. You can turn the volume down, but you'll still feel like you're right there.
Eight years later, this song still goes hard. Bro Safari's The Drop will raise your trap nostalgia level to redline. Guns cocked from the get-go, Bro Safari brings you right in with this one. “Down on the drop” to “pop it like,” the lyrics explain the song better than us, and be prepared because they're going to get stuck in your head.
Have you ever had a little bit of ringing in your ear after you leave the show, and you wonder if it's hearing damage you're experiencing or just euphoria? Well, be careful with the volume button and wear some earplugs because you're riding in the danger zone. This song has one of the best drops you'll find.
This track never gets old and is seen as one of Post Malone's best. Post Malone, one of the most iconic hip-hop artists of our time, brings that deep, reminiscent vibe in his lyrics. “White Iverson, when I started ballin' I was young, you gon' think about me when I'm gone, I need that money like the ring I never won, I won.“
Post Malone's voice is that of someone who's seen the highs and lows as a superstar, and you can feel it in the heavy, dreamy tone of his music. The song sounds like Post is trying to explain his life and innermost emotions, and he does it well.
White Iverson also has a great music video. What is trap music's definition for post malone? The music video does a great job of representing the trap influenced soul of this artist. Post Malone's White Iverson perfectly embodies the ideal blend of chill trap and hip-hop.
This track has calmness and dimension. With kicks, high notes, soul, and attitude, White Iverson has everything you need. You have to give it up to Post Malone for this one. Every song he drops is a classic, and this one goes down as one of his best.
These are the most popular artists of the genre.
Travis Scott is an artist who has been making waves in the music industry for a long time. Jacques Bermon Webster II, known on stage as Travis Scott and formerly stylized as Travi$ Scott has become well known in recent years as one of the most popular and frequently played American rappers and producers on the radio.
Travis Scott's stage name was birthed by a favorite uncle and the artist Kid Cudi. Kid Cudi is one of the main rappers who inspired him to be the artist he is today.
Travis Scott has been a name in the mainstream going back nearly a decade when he first signed with the major record label Epic records. He's made songs with well-known artists like M.I.A., Quavo, and Young Thug.
One of Scott's most popular songs was “Antidote,” a hit single back in 2015. His reputation skyrocketed when he dropped “Sicko Mode” featuring Drake in 2018 on his third album.
In 2020, Scott became the first on the Hot 100 to have 3 songs debut as top on the billboard in less than 1 year. Travis Scott has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and won both a Latin Grammy Award and a Billboard Music Award, an impressive feat, and why this artist is one of the top artists in the genre.
21 Savage is a major influence on who’s changing the trap music definition. Not only does he put out hit after hit, but his life also reflects the cultural roots and street lifestyle of hip-hop and trap.
Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was born in 1992. Savage is a rapper, songwriter, and record producer who commands respect in the industry with hit after hit of unforgettably dirty records.
Born in London, 21 Savage moved to Atlanta when he was 7. Savage adopted the heavily hip-hop-influenced life and culture of the City. He started getting mainstream attention in 2015 with his mixtape The Slaughter Tape. Later he would produce an EP with Metro Boomin in 2016 titled Savage Mode, which elevated his career further.
21 Savage has worked with top artists like Future, Drake, and Post Malone, featuring in hit after hit on the radio. His 2017 single titled “Rockstar” with Post Malone was one of his most famous records, and he has continued to share his iconic sound ever since.
Trouble, or Mariel Semonte Orr, adopted his stage name because of the hard street life he experienced in Atlanta. Trouble was arrested for multiple crimes, including home invasion, armed robbery, and kidnapping, so his reputation is not a joke. Trouble is not the sort of artist who's faking the street life by any means.
Trouble signed a record with Duct Tape Entertainment, fittingly, just before being sent to jail for the first time. Trouble was released in 2010. He spent time in jail writing songs and strengthening his creativity and lyrical skills.
Trouble has worked with world-famous artists such as Gucci Manne, TFN Lucci, Yo Gotti, Fetty Wap, 2 Chainz, and The Weeknd. He signed a deal with Eardruma Label in 2018, which elevated his mainstream career.
Trouble goes on to represent his name and his past in his music.
Jefferey Lamar Williams was born in 1991, and took up the name Young Thug before becoming one of the most influential figures of hip-hop and trap music to date.
Young Thug's eccentric vocal style departs from traditional rap and has been critiqued for being intelligible. It's also been called trendsetting by many music enthusiasts, on the other hand, making him different from other artists.
His sound is distinctive and his approach is experimental. He manages to warp and distress his tone, adding catchy melodic hooks to a heavy flow.
Young Thug’s voice makes him stand out, whether people like it or hate it. He utilizes odd timbres, slurs, shouts, and many other unusual sounds to create his lyrical recipe. Out of the weirdness, he manages to create hooks that never disappoint his fans.
Young Thug started his music career by releasing independent mixtapes in 2011. He followed this up by signing with Gucci Mane's 1017 Records in 2013. Down the road, he dropped his label debut mixtape titled 1017 Thug.
Young Thug has also been mentioned in the media for his eccentric style and unpredictable charisma. His eclectic music style and fashion sense put him apart from other artists. He has often been seen wearing skintight jeans or kids-size dresses in the place of a shirt and painted fingernails.
Young Thug also has philanthropic pursuits. He joined the #fightpovertyagain campaign in 2016 and has donated proceeds to planned parenthood. Young Thug will be dropping his next music album on October 15th of 2021.
Juaquin James Malphurs was born in 1986. The artist signed to 1017 Brick Squad and Warner Bros. Records in 2009 and has since risen in popularity with tracks like “Hard in da Paint,” and “No Hands.”
He released his debut album Flockaveli in 2010, and Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family in 2012. He followed up with his well-known single “Round of Applause” featuring Drake.
Flocka is another artist who's dealt with his fair share of legal troubles. In 2011 Waka Flocka turned himself in to the authorities following a police raid on his home in Atlanta.
Flocka was charged for multiple crimes, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of hydrocodone and marijuana, and violation of probation for driving his vehicle with a suspended license.
Flocka was arrested a second time at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for possession of a loaded handgun. Needless to say, Flocka’s lifestyle fits the darker sides of the trap music definition.
Flocka has had his fair share of other stunts that have landed him attention from the press. In 2015, Waka Flocka Flame announced publicly that he planned to run for United States president, despite him being below the required age of 35. He had some points you might expect from a famous trap artist with a criminal record, and some you might not. Some of them were just strange.
The rapper claimed that he would legalize marijuana. He also said he would improve trade opportunities in schools, and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Another of his proposals was that he believed people with shoe sizes above 13 should not be allowed to walk on the street.
What is trap music’s history? Trap music is seen as a popular sub-genre today, but it's been around since the 1990s. The advent of trap music came from producer Shawty Redd and was later adopted by culturally relevant hip-hop artists like Lil-Jon. Its characteristics reflect that of street culture.
UGK released a record titled “Cocaine in the Back of the Ride” in 1992, and later, “Pocket Full of Stones.” The sub-genre was featured in the film Menace II Society in 1993, sparking widespread cultural relevance. Artists like T.I. added to trap's musical development and led the sub-genre into new grounds in the 2000s.
In 2012, trap music became more popular with EDM artists who developed their unique range of beats. Artists such as Baauer, RL Grime, and Flosstradamus made this style more popular, and many EDM artists began collaborating with rappers to create their trap music definition and style.
This fusion gave both genres a wider audience, attracting listeners who normally wouldn't have paid attention to those styles of music. The trap influence in EDM can be seen today in all sorts of electronic sub-genres, with sounds including “techno,” “dub,” and more hip-hop influenced trap songs with EDM production. This brought forth a more futuristic sound to the popular sub-genre.
Artists like Travis Scott, 21 savage, Young Thug, and Trouble currently lead the way in hip-hop-based trap music. Bro Safari, Herobust, and Luminox are some of the most popular EDM-based trap artists in 2021, as the genre has gained wide popularity among the electronic music scene.
What Is Trap Music? Final Thoughts
Trap music has become popular among young and middle-aged hip-hop and EDM listeners alike. The street-influenced vibe of this genre has held to its roots through its evolution and has collected a diverse fanbase.
Trap will most certainly continue to reinvent itself and maintain popularity culture for decades to come.