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A music genre that started during the early 1990s, out of the Southern United States.

It tends to have an aggressive lyrical content and sound, the instrumentals are propelled by 808 kick drums or heavy extended sub-bass lines, double-time, triple-time and other faster time division hi-hats, layered synthesizers, and "cinematic" strings.

2012 rolled around, and a new movement of Electronic Dance Music producers and DJs began to appear who were incorporating elements of trap music into their works.

Elements of Trap

Trap takes in elements that make use of a number of elements;-

  • multi-layered hard-lined and melodic synthesizers
  • crisp
  • grimy and rhythmic snares
  • deep 808 sub-bass kick drums
  • heavy sub-bass lines
  • double-time
  • triple-time and similarly divided hi-hats
  • cinematic and symphonic utilization of string, brass and keyboard instruments

All of these create an overall dark, harsh, grim and bleak background feeling for the listener.

These primary characteristics would go on to be the signature sound and feeling of trap music, with one of the key originators being the producer Shawty Redd.

Trap's influence is largely derived from its earlier southern hip hop predecessors, Hardcore Hip Hop and crunk.

Trap music is also defined by its bleak, gritty and belligerent lyrical content, ominous characteristics which varies widely on the Hip Hop artist but typical lyrical themes include observations of street life, poverty, violence, and hardship in the "trap" and harsh experiences urban surroundings that the rapper is trying to lyrically portray to the listener.


Originally the term was used to refer to the place where drug deals are made, somewhere that might have been known as a "ghetto", but it was "Trap", as a reference to how difficult it can be to escape this lifestyle.

Trap, as a term in this context, originated out of Atlanta, Georgia where Rappers Cool Breeze, Dungeon Family, Outkast, Goodie Mob and Ghetto Mafia were some of the first to use the term in their music. Fans and critics started to refer to Rappers whose primary lyrical topic was drug dealing, as "trap rappers."

David Drake of Complex wrote;- "the trap in the early 2000s wasn't a genre, it was a real place", and the term was later adopted to describe the "music made about that place".

The '90s

Back to the early '90s, and Rappers UGK, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Cool Breeze, Kilo Ali, Master P, and Ghetto Mafia were among the first to introduce trap music.

In 1992, UGK's "Pocket Full of Stones" was one of the earliest trap records to be released from their major-label debut album Too Hard to Swallow. It was also featured in the 1993 film Menace II Society. In 1996, Master P released his single "Mr. Ice Cream Man" off of his fifth studio album Ice Cream Man. The lyrics covered topics about life in "the trap", drug dealing and the struggle for success. Local Southern rappers, such as Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti and T.I., as well as his rap group P$C, helped expand the popularity of the genre and trap records started to appear on local mixtapes and radio stations.

The 2000s

During the 2000s, trap began to emerge after the success of a number of albums and singles released at the time.

In 2003, the first wave of trap music broke into mainstream with the release of T.I.'s second studio album Trap Muzik. It achieved major commercial success, selling over 2.1 million copies. The album's lead single, "24's", was featured on EA's popular video game Need for Speed: Underground. T.I. explained that "It's informative for people who don't know nothing about that side of life and wonder why somebody they know that live on that side of life act the way they do or do the things they do".

In 2005, the first wave continued with the success of Young Jeezy's Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, with 172,000 copies sold in its first week of release and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of over 1 million copies. The album also popularised producer Shawty Redd after creating the original signature trap sound. Some of the first wave of trap producers include DJ Toomp, Fatboi, Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd, D. Rich and Zaytoven

The 2010s

During the 2010s, the second wave of trap records reached the mainstream Hip Hop charts across the USA.

Trap producer Lex Luger broke out of relative obscurity, gained huge popularity, and went on to produce more than 200 songs between 2010 and 2011.

Since 2010, Luger's signature trap sound (strongly influenced by trap predecessor Shawty Redd) has been his heavy use of hard-hitting 808's, crisp snares, frantic synth keys, and bombastic orchestration of ominous brass, strings, woodwinds and keyboards. His sounds have since been widely adopted by rap producers, trying to replicate his success, and he is often credited with popularizing the second wave modern trap sound.

Since the 2010s, the second wave of modern trap producers along with Lex Luger have gained popularity, most notably 808 Mafia, Southside, Sonny Digital, Young Chop and Metro Boomin. Some producers expanded their range to other genres, such as R 'n' B, and General Electronic Dance Music.

In 2012, trap songs kept maintaining a strong presence on the mainstream Billboard music charts with records released by rappers such as Chief Keef and Future went viral. Future's single, "Turn On The Lights", was certified gold and entered at #50 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 while Keef's "I Don't Like" and "Love Sosa" garnered over 30 million views on YouTube, also spawned a new subgenre within trap called drill.

Music critics called drill production style the "sonic cousin to skittish footwork, southern-fried hip-hop and the 808 trigger-finger of trap." Young Chop is frequently identified by critics as the genre's most characteristic producer. The sound of trap producer Lex Luger's music is a major influence on drill, and Young Chop identified Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy and Zaytoven as important precursors to the drill movement.

Since maintaining a strong presence on the mainstream music charts, trap music has been utilised by many commercial pop artists.