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The Evolution and Dominance of Trap Music

For over half a decade trap has been the dominating sound of mainstream Hip-Hop. At first many hard core Hip-Hop fans rejected it and outcast it, but most of those "oldheads" eventually learned to embrace the change and have grown to love some of it. Since trap has come about it has gone on to evolve and create many new subgenres of Hip-Hop. Even artist's who were hating on it like Eminem eventually went on to embrace it, rapping over trap beats and collaborating with artists such as Polo G and Don Toliver. Not to mention some of J. Cole's biggest songs like Pride Is The Devil and ATM are fairly trap centric. Even veterans with elite pens like Conway the Machine rapped over a couple fast beats with hi hats and heavy 808's on his most recent project La Maquina.

Considering how huge trap has become and Young Thug's Punk finally dropping I decided to recount some monumental trap moments as well as some of it's biggest subgenres

Trap has been around since the mid 2000's with Southern artists such as Gucci Mane, Jeezy and T.I. paving the way. Their influence is still ringing throughout the trap scene and they inevitably changed rap forever. The late Speaker Knockerz became one of the first rappers to sing and his work from the early 2010's changed the way rap would sound. Around this same time Chicago native Chief Keef at just sixteen was dropping trap classics Back From The Dead and Finally Rich. His angry violent sound over vibrant electronic beats was not only revolutionary but it put Chicago on the map. In Atlanta Young Thug and Future had started their own wave with raps about drugs and women with a whole lot of autotune. Kodak Black and Lil Uzi Vert came out in the late 2010's taking influence from all three and becoming staples in the industry.

The aforementioned Gucci Mane created the blueprint for trap that was once unique but now is now standard in the industry. His innovation is now considered standard; and if that doesn't convince you that he's influential then I don't know what would. He has now stepped back and fathered one of the most young and bubbling labels, 1017, with rising stars like Pooh Shiesty, Big Scarr and Foogiano. Artists like Migos and Moneybagg Yo have gone on to conform to the standard tracks as they are super successful without changing up too much from Gucci's blueprint.


As I previously mentioned, Young Thug and Future were serious game changers here and are on top of the rap game. 21 Savage is another big Atlanta trap artist, although his sound is completely different than there's. 21's scary demeanor and killer sound put him in a lane of his own. Unlike 21, Young Thug and Future have had an immense influence on the sound of trap music, mostly Thugger if we're being honest. Act's like Lil Baby and Gunna were once dubbed Young Thug clones but have gone on to not only be huge but have unique sounds of their own. YSL signees Lil Keed and Lil Gotit are borderline Thug copies but they are pretty good and that only stands as a testament to his influence. Finally I must mention Playboi Carti who has really diversified himself from sounding like Thug to going on to be one of the most influential artists since Thug himself.


Along with Thug, Chief Keef was also a groundbreaking and innovative artist that was coming out in the early 2010's, except he was from Chicago. He had a sound like no other and it caught on quick as Chicago drill/trap was striving as other acts like Lil Reese, La Capone, Lil Durk and G Herbo all began to heat up as well. Lil Durk has become a juggernaut and has shifted from the original Chicago sound but it's still there in some of his work. Durkio also fathered King Von who himself is clearly more influenced by Keef with his animated instrumental choice. G Herbo was always kind of in a lane of his own with his brash delivery, and has gone on to be a super unique and good trap artist. The newest Chicago superstar, Polo G is changing the sound that Chiraq is known for to a more melodic sound, although he goes back to his roots on tracks like GNF and Neva Cared.


Although this subgenre is associated more with R&B than trap, it is certainly worth a mention. Trap&B is essential R&B songs over trap type instrumentals that feature autotune sometimes. TRAPSOUL by Bryson Tiller pioneered this sound as well as 6LACK who are the forefathers of this sound. In upcoming acts like Blxst, Toosii and Morray you can hear the influence Bryson and 6LACK have on them but they distance themselves more to the trap lane. Morray is more in his soul bag and Blxst's instrumental choice is more LA influenced than pure trap but they still have that soulful sound. Toosii does as well but he has the ability to switch it up and can operate predominantly in the trap lane.

Florida Trap (and YoungBoy):

YoungBoy Never Broke Again, hailing from Louisiana and Kodak Black of Florida have gone on to be some of the most influential artists of the last five years. Their signature mumbling delivery as they rap about their pain, struggle and street life have unfortunately become a staple in the rap game. Not to mention the level of major criminals that are influenced by these two are are often arrested long before they blow up. Artists like Jackboy, Foolio and Hotboii all stick to the same whiney singing as Kodak and operate in the exact same lane he does. YoungBoy's artist NoCap is similar as he's practically the same as YoungBoy just a different artist. The only good artist out of this scene is YNW Melly whose music is more singing based with unique instrumentals, but he's another artist whose trouble with the law has prevented him from truly taking off.

Melotrap/Singing Rap:

As I mentioned the late Speaker Knockerz was huge for the start of singing rapping or melodic trap, they are both the same to me. Speaker Knockerz ' influence is very clear in artists A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Calboy. A Boogie developed a sound of his own and the young Lil Tjay drew influence from both of them. Tjay does a lot more rapping than either of them and despite his influence he has separated himself from their sound. The other side of melodic trap starts with Lil Uzi Vert who is obviously influenced by Thug with his drug induced beats and auto tuned singing. His sound is super unique and he truly has a voice of his own. The late Juice WRLD later meshed Uzi's sound with a punk sound and developed a lane of his own too. Melotrap has the potential to be a lot more diverse than some of the other subgenres which makes it a more fun one.

"Mumble Rap":

I do not believe mumble rap is a real thing. I think it is just an umbrella term that people use to define the era of SoundCloud that was characterized by internet shenanigans. Artists like Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, 6ix 9ine and Blueface are all "mumble rappers", but they don't actually mumble. They are just artists who made below average music and their careers were all characterized by clout chasing.

Street Rap:

Lil Baby has become the face of street rap, which is how he stepped out of Young Thug's shadow, he has a voice of his own and he uses it to put people on. 42 Dugg and Rylo Rodriguez, signees to Lil Baby's 4PF label are both bubbling in the street scene, especially 42 Dugg. They both have a different sound although I don't think it's too great. Pooh Shiesty is also dominating this field with his unique voice and adlibs, and he will continue to if he doesn't get locked up for too long. EST Gee is a pretty great upcoming street rapper and is closely tied to Jack Harlow. Lil Baby gave him a huge look and he has a promising future.


One of the hottest scenes right now is the New York drill scene. It all started with Pop Smoke's Welcome To The Party, which led to a new light being shed on the bubbling New York scene. Of course we all know of the late Pop's legacy and everything he did for the bubbling scene. Other than him you have Fivio who has leveled up off of his Donda feature and his one of a kind charisma. Most notably right now Sleepy Hallow and Sheff G are putting on for the culture. Both are diversifying drill with more personal elements and depressing tracks. Sleepy especially is bringing new sounds to the table and I can't be excited to see the rest of his career. Bizzy Banks and 22Gz are also on the rise as they are energetic and have distinct flows and are furthering the influence of drill.

Pop Trap:

This one isn't too crazy, it's just rap music directed to a large mainstream audience, people who want suburban moms to hear their music on the radio. I personally am not crazy about this and I don't think it has much longevity either. But I have to mention it due to the relevance it's given by artists like 24kGoldn, Iann Dior, Lil Tecca and Bankrol Hayden. I would've mentioned The Kid Laroi but he is a popstar, mentioning as a rapper is like calling Post Malone a rapper.

Detroit Rap:

For a while Tee Grizzley was the only real new artist from Detroit that people were talking about. He made street music but in his own unique way. His instrumentals were different and his tenacity is unmatched by many. But come 2020 he has influenced a new wave of upcoming rappers who use similar type instrumentals and rap off beat. Sada Baby, Babyface Ray and Icewear Vezzo are all leading the pack right now. They have all had small scale hits and big time cosigns and are close to breaking through to the mainstream. None other than Lil Yachty dropped a Detroit influenced mixtape with features from many young artists that wasn't great but it was a huge look for the upcoming sound.


The Playboi Carti inspired subgenre that is rising to new levels of popularity everyday is one of the most polarizing. I personally am not a fan but it is resonating with a lot of young listeners. Not only did Carti but on for this sound but Trippie Redd's Trip At Knight album was heavily inspired by Carti and gave a huge look to the underground rage scene as well. Artist's like SoFaygo, Ken Carson, Pi'erre Bourne, Ka$hdami, Cochise and so many more are skyrocketing to relevancy and all have promising careers.

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