Explore the ever-changing landscape of contemporary music, where few genres have made as big an impact as trap music. This guide goes beyond the basics, delving into what is trap music by defining its characteristics, unraveling the complexities of creating your own trap masterpiece, and showcasing chart-topping hits. We shed light on the masterminds behind these tracks – trap artists whose names have been etched into the genre’s history. Join us as we decipher the evolution of trap music, tracing its origins to the grand stages of renowned festivals resounding with pulsating beats.
1. What is trap music?
Trap music emerged in the late 1990s in the Southern United States, primarily in Atlanta. Trap beats are aggressive, with heavy bass and quick hi-hats and synthesizers. Trap music was pioneered by artists such as OutKast and Underground Kingz (UGK).
Trap music is more than just beats and lyrics at its core. A “trap” is a notorious drug-dealing location, and trap songs frequently reflect themes of street life, hustling, and overcoming adversity. Trap house music has evolved into a prominent subgenre of hip-hop over the years, influencing a diverse range of artists and styles in the music industry.
2. Historical context of trap music (evolution)
i. Trap electronic dance music
Trap music gained mainstream popularity in the early 2010s, thanks in part to the influence of producers such as Lex Luger. Trap, a subgenre of electronic dance music (EDM), incorporated EDM elements such as high-energy drops and synthesizers. This fusion broadened trap music’s appeal and propelled it into the global dance music scene.
ii. The Latin trap
Latin trap emerged as a significant subgenre, combining trap beats with influences from Latin music. Artists like Bad Bunny and Ozuna rose to prominence by fusing trap with reggaeton, salsa, and other Latin rhythms. Latin trap was successful in Spanish-speaking regions and gained international recognition, which aided the genre’s global expansion.
iii. Trap becomes popular.
With trap songs dominating the charts, pop artists began incorporating trap elements into their songs, resulting in a subgenre known as “trap pop.” With artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Ariana Grande incorporating trap beats into their hits, the popularity of trap’s distinct sound spread to a broader audience.
iv. K-pop’s Trap
Trap elements were embraced by K-pop, which is known for its versatility and willingness to experiment with different genres. Numerous K-pop groups and artists incorporated trap beats into their music, resulting in a hugely popular fusion that demonstrated the genre’s adaptability and resonance with diverse musical cultures.
3. Types of trap music
i. Atlanta trap
- Origin:Developed in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1990s.
- Heavy bass and aggressive beats.
- Gritty lyrics depicting urban life.
- Distinctive hi-hats and 808 drum patterns.
- Pioneering artists:OutKast, T.I., Gucci Mane.
ii. Tropical trap
- Origin:Influenced by the Caribbean, tropical trap incorporating Calypso beats and synth pop music elements gained global popularity.
- Danceable rhythms with a summery vibe.
- Fusion of trap with reggae, dancehall, and tropical house.
- Global appeal:The appeal of tropical trap often extends beyond traditional hip-hop audiences.
iii. SoundCloud trap
- Origin:This subgenre was developed on the SoundCloud platform in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos and experimental production.
- Unconventional sounds and sampling.
- Lo-fi aesthetics and unique production techniques.
- Platform influence:SoundCloud became a crucial space for independent artists to showcase their work.
iv. Trap soul
- Origin:Popularized in the 2010s, this subgenre blended trap with contemporary R&B elements.
- Soulful vocals over trap-influenced production.
- Exploration of themes such as love, relationships, and personal struggles.
- Introspective and emotionally resonant lyrics.
- Key artist:Bryson Tiller played a significant role in the rise of trap soul.
4. Characteristics of trap music
Trap music has a moderate to slow tempo that ranges from 70 to 110 beats per minute (BPM). The slower tempo adds to the genre’s distinct and deliberate feel.
The emphasis on heavy bass is a defining feature of trap music. The basslines, which are frequently created with deep 808 kick drums, provide a powerful and resonant foundation for the music.
Fast and complex hi-hat patterns are a distinguishing feature, adding energy and a sense of urgency. Snare rolls, often with quick bursts, contribute to the beats’ dynamic and intense nature.
iii. Flow of triplets
A trap song frequently employs triplets in vocal delivery and lyrical elements. This triplet flow, which is distinguished by three equally spaced notes or beats, contributes an exceptional rhythmic pattern.
iv. Transitions between rolls and risers
Rolls and risers are frequently used in trap music production. These instrumental elements gradually intensify, building anticipation for the drop. Drops are points in music where the energy spikes, which are frequently marked by a sudden change or addition of elements.
Smooth transitions between song sections are essential in a trap. Trap producers use effects like sweeps, stutters, and pitch shifts to create smooth transitions between verses, choruses, and drops.
5. Key elements of trap music
i. Patterns for heavy 808 drums
Trap music is heavily reliant on the 808 drum machine (rhythm composer), which generates deep and resonant bass patterns that echo the genre. The heartbeat of trap beats is formed by these drum patterns, which are distinguished by powerful kicks and booming bass. The 808’s distinct sound has become synonymous with the genre, providing an impactful foundation that emphasizes the intensity and rhythmic drive of trap music.
ii. Synthesizers that are dark and aggressive
Dark and aggressive synthesizers create an intense and edgy atmosphere, which is at the heart of trap’s sonic identity. These synthesizers, which are frequently filled with distortion and modulation, contribute to the genre’s distinct sound.
iii. Rap vocals or trap vocals
Trap music has a distinct vocal delivery. Rap or trap vocals with a distinct rhythm and style are used by artists. The rhythmic flow of verses, catchy hooks, and improvised segments transform into storytelling tools that carry the track’s energy. When vocals and instrumental parts are combined, the genre becomes more lively and exciting.
iv. Hi-hat patterns that move quickly
Trap music is distinguished by its fast-paced and complex hi-hat patterns, which are referred to as “trap hats.” The tempo and complex rhythms of the genre are set by these hi-hats. They skillfully and quickly add a layer of urgency and energy to the beats, creating a distinct sound signature.
v. Massive basslines
Additional heavy basslines are mixed into the soundtrack to amplify the impact of the iconic 808. These basslines, in addition to the basic beats, give the tracks their power. The rhythm is determined by how well the bass and drums complement each other. These basslines help to maintain the genre’s reputation for producing powerful, bass-heavy soundscapes.
vi. Sampled hooks that are sparse but melodic
Simple but effective sampled hooks bring trap music’s melodic side to the forefront. These rhythmic elements, drawn from various types of music, balance out the intensity of the beats. The composition benefits from the sparse use of melodies, which are often catchy and easy to remember, by creating a contrast that draws the listener in.
vii. Dark atmospheres
Trap music is known for its use of moody and atmospheric soundscapes. This genre’s sound textures make you feel alive. Atmospheric elements such as reverb, ambient sounds, and unique soundscapes contribute to the immersive and evocative nature of trap tracks. This dramatic element enhances the listening experience by adding variety to the music.
viii. Choruses lyrical about street life, brutality, and drugs
Trap music is distinct from other genres because its lyrics frequently tell gritty, true stories about drugs, crime, and life on the streets. Lyrics are used by artists to paint vivid pictures of city life and to express their problems, battles, and harsh realities.
6. The impact of trap music on popular culture
Trap music has made an indelible mark on pop culture, transcending its Southern roots to become a global phenomenon. Trap music’s influence can be seen in many aspects of contemporary culture. Heavy basslines, distinct hi-hats, and bold beats have found their way into hip-hop, pop, and electronic music.
The genre’s rise on music charts, as well as collaborations between trap artists and pop icons, have blurred genre lines, resulting in music that appeals to a global audience. Trap culture has spread beyond music and into fashion, with trap music artists frequently becoming style influencers. The trap aesthetic, which combines streetwear and high fashion, is becoming increasingly popular.
7. How to write a trap song?
A step-by-step guide to writing a trap song is provided below:
- Set your tempo: To achieve the typical trap feel, choose a moderate to slow tempo, typically between 70 and 110 BPM.
- Set your tempo: Create a tight, punchy drumbeat by emphasizing the kick, snare, and hi-hats. Experiment with patterns to find the right rhythm for you.
- Make and then play your melody: Create a memorable melody with synthesizers or other instruments. In a trap, repetition is essential, so consider writing a looped verse to anchor your song.
- Add some drums: Mix 808 drum patterns to improve your beat. The bassline should be deep and resonant, serving as the track’s foundation.
- Adjust the snare: To achieve the desired effect, fine-tune the snare.
- Use distortion:Introduce distortion to certain elements, especially 808 basses, to create a gritty and edgy texture. This adds a raw and powerful quality to the overall sound.
8. Steps to make trap music
Step 1: Tight drums
- Begin by laying a strong foundation with tight, punchy drums.
- Concentrate on sharp hi-hats, snappy snares, and a steady kick drum.
Step 2: Banging 808 (the key to trap music)
- Create a powerful and booming 808 bassline, which is a staple of trap music.
- Experiment with slides, pitch changes, and depth and movement variations.
Step 3: Hype melodies and synths
- Make catchy and energetic tunes with synthesizers.
- To add complexity and texture to the melodic elements, layer different synths.
Step 4: Sprinkle the FX in trap music
- Sound effects that are strategically placed can improve the overall atmosphere.
- To create smooth transitions, use risers, sweeps, and other transitional effects.
Step 5: Creating energy in trap music
- Build power throughout the track by strategically introducing and removing elements.
- To shape the energy flow, use volume automation, filtering, and other techniques.
Step 6: Trap music magic moments
- Create memorable moments in the music track by combining standout moments.
- For maximum impact, use unexpected elements, drops, or unique sound design.
Step 7: Final polishes
- In the final polishing stage, fine-tune the mix and arrangement.
- For clarity and cohesion, pay attention to balance, equalizer, and compression.
- Finish with reverb and delay to add spatial depth.
9. Trap music festivals
- Rolling Loud
- Beat Patrol Festival
- Trap Circus
- Astroworld Festival
10. Top trap music songs
- Trap Queen by Fetty Wap
- XO Tour Llif3 by Lil Uzi Vert
- Mask Off by Future
- No Lie by 2 Chainz
11. Top trap music artists
- Travis Scott
Trap” can be traced back to “trap houses,” where illegal activities take place. In this context, “trap” refers not only to a musical genre, but also to a cultural expression deeply rooted in street experiences and narratives.