Before the 2000’s Trap wasn’t a genre, it was a real place. The term trap would not only refer to an actual place in which drug deals were made, but the psychological ‘trap’ involved in a certain lifestyle that many found it hard to get out of. Originating in Atlanta, Georgia, where many rappers like Outkast, Ghetto Mafia and many more began using the term, critics and fans alike starting referring to those that used topics relating to drugs for lyrical content ‘trap rappers’.

The musical characteristics of trap often incorporates rhythmic snares, it uses multi-layering of synthesizers, deep 808 kick drums and/or heavy sub-bass lines and has a typical tempo of 140bpm. It combines keyboards, string and other instruments to create a sometimes dark and foreboding atmosphere overlapped with explicit lyrical content varying from artist to artist. Rappers like Gucci Mane, T.I. and Rick Ross began championing the style after releases from UGK and Three 6 Mafia were well received. From 2000 to 2010, trap had started to dominate the charts and Kanye West, Waka Flocka Flame and Mike WiLL Made It used the signature sounds in their music.

Now, mainstream music utilises the sonic forms everywhere, from Beyonce’s 2013 album to Lady Gaga and even Katy Perry. EDM opened it’s arms to the genre and the two evolved to make a hybrid of trap and EDM with drops that are have heavier, rhythmic bass drum hits that fall offbeat. Today there is discussion and argument over what trap means in music today, it’s etymology now envelops rappers and electronic producers alike.


  • 808 Mafia ▶ Founded in 2010 when Waka Flocka Flame decided on creating a production team. There are about 20 members including the likes of Southside, Tarentino and Smurf.

  • Baauer ▶ Known to friends as Harry Rodrigues has been producing since the age of 13 and is well known for his viral song 'Harlem Shake'

  • Chief Keef ▶ Keith Cozart had a lot of interest from major labels at the beginning of his career and signed with Interscope, then later 1017 Brick Squad. His 2014 debut 'Finally Rich' was well received.

  • DJ Craze ▶ Hailing from Managua, Nicaragua (now Miami) Aristh Delgado has been making music since 1999 and was Kanye West's DJ for his 'Glow In The Dark' tour in 2008.

  • DJ Snake ▶ William Grigahcine is a French DJ and rapper gaining popularity after his famous 'Turn Down For What' song in 2013. William also produced on Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' album.

  • Flosstradamus ▶ Flosstradamus is made up of J2K (Joshua Young) & Autobot (Curt Cameruci) from Chicago. They've release 11 EP's on a number of labels, one being Diplo's Mad Decent.

  • RL Grime ▶ Part of the WeDidIt collective, Henry Steinway started his musical career in 2011, and his debut 2014 debut album 'void' featured appearances from Big Sean and Boys Noize as well as touring with Ryan Hemsworth.

  • Sonny Digital ▶ Sonny Uwaezuoke rose to prominence after producing YC's hit 'Racks' in 2011 and other notable songs. He is now label owner and boss at Sony Digital Music Group.

  • TNGHT ▶ TNGHT is made up of Producers Hudson Mohawke and Lunice and see releases on Lucky Me and Warp.

  • Yellow Claw ▶ A trio from Amsterdam involving Leo Roelandschap, Jim Taihuttu and Nils Roindhuis, Yellow Claw have been making music sine 2010, they rose to popularity in 2013.


The thing that originally grabbed me with trap music was the energy. It’s this high octane, neck-whipping, arm flexing hip-hop born of the Southern US that I hadn’t heard anything like before. It was the diversity that hooked me, though. People who don’t like trap might tell you that it all sounds the same; but that’s not true, it’s full of subtleties. Each rapper has their own ad-libs, flows and tones. Producers have their own tendencies too, some are tougher, some are more euphoric and some are more likely to deviate from the norm.

The pinnacle of this for me is Gucci Mane’s World War 3 boxset. Three separate mixtapes, each handled by a different production team. Over 20 different featuring artists (including Young Thug, Waka Flocka, Migos, Future and Chief Keef). The 'Trap God' Gucci finesses every track. It seems ludicrous to say, but they’re all hits. World War 3 is also symbolic of something else that makes it so easy to enjoy trap. The artists are so prolific. Producers create hit beats inside half an hour, rappers sometimes lace them just as quickly. If you like it, you’re in.

Then, you can add in the electronic producers who started to extrapolate these palettes and templates in their output around late 2011/early 2012 on labels like Lucky Me. Purists will say that you shouldn’t do this but for me, it depends where you set the boundaries. Sure, a lot of bogus impersonators arrived on the scene (probably not coincidentally after the “success” of the Harlem Shake viral video pandemic), but that’s not a genre-specific problem. Hearing Rustie’s “After Light”, TNGHT’s “Higher Ground” alongside Waka Flocka’s “Hard In da Paint” and Future’s “Same Damn Time” in the club, it’s hard to deny the aural synergy. It’s also no accident that those producers cited have gone on to produce for some of the biggest names in the game.

Matt Coombs (Journalism student and contributor at Truants)
featured artists