Welcome back to the second part of the trap series. On this particular post, we are going to focus on characteristics of Trap music which is not normally present in other basic genres of rap music that qualifies a rapper for a GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) title. This is not to imply that trap artistes are wack, but to show why most are not accepted in Hip Hop’s Hall of Fame.
1. Nonsensical lyrics
The most common criticism of the new generation of trap music is that it is lyrically bankrupt. Rap music allows for eloquence, mind-bending lyricism and vivid storytelling among the best artistes. But many trap songs feel like brand idolatry, hedonistic non-sequitur and random, excessive cursing.
While many of the songs are by skillful rappers, the verses lack content. They aren’t really about anything. Where first-generation trap music offered great depth even when talking about the world of crime, the new stuff just glorifies drugs and partying without any examination. It’s fantastic party music, but it’s not good listening music.
I often hear complaints about the singing. There are many guys like Lil Yachty, Young Thug and Fetty Wap (Trap Queen) who sing almost as much as they rap or even more. Many of them rap in a way that blurs the line with singing.
This is nothing new in hip hop music; from Bone Thugs N Harmony and Andre 3000 to Pharrell and T-Pain, there are plenty of rappers who have done this. But trap musicians often sound a bit too untrained and unpolished. The singing is melodic and catchy to some, but amateurish and grating to others.
Then there is the mumble rap. Mumble according to Wikipedia is a lack of lyricism or a perceived lyrical incomprehensibility. These rappers are the guys who drawl, lack enunciation and employ a new-school slang and overall flow that renders their verses nearly incomprehensible.
These guys are some of the most polarizing figures in hip hop. For people who like to understand what their rappers are saying, mumble rappers really make you work for it. Some people just don’t have the patience.
I mentioned above that trap is popular, but that may be an understatement. The signature sounds of trap; the hi-hats, synths and 808 bass pumps, have made their way into R&B, pop and EDM. It has also made it’s way into rock. One of the big hits of 2016 was Panic at the Disco’s “Death of a Bachelor”.
The song is deliberately eclectic, mixing Sinatra-style crooning with a trap beat. It’s an awesome song, but it also is a sign that trap beats are so ubiquitous that the genre is now unavoidable. Pop music is saturated with trap, and only half of it is from rappers. It’s on the verge of getting played out.
Onomatopoeia is largely associated with trap music, and it drives some music fans nuts. Onomatopoeia is the use of sounds to phonetically imitate something else. Trap rappers do this a lot, especially guys like The Migos. Listen to a song like “Bad and Boujee”, the hit single that reached No. 1 on the pop charts at the start of the year. Try to count how many times they do a dog bark, pigeon coo or screeching tires (otherwise known as SKRT SKRT) in the background.
Let’s just say it’s often. The “SKRT SKRT” sound has taken on a life of it’s own because so many rappers do it so frequently. We’ve arrived at a point where it’s featured on t-shirts and other swag items because it has become so popular. You could blame trap for that. This also falls under the category of nonsensical lyrics, but it’s so unique it deserves its own mention. short. However It’s not that they don’t like trap music, it’s that many of them don’t consider it to be hip hop.
The legendary rappers were known for their powerful lyrics, symbolism and word play. These new-age trap rappers repeat catchy phrases over powerful beats. Although this music can be enjoyed by many, it aggravates those who consider rap to be about story telling and lyrical poetry. These points are generally found in this new age of Trap. Back in the 90’s trap was not even in the picture. But even with its mainstream rise, it still hasn’t been considered as a Lyrical genre.
About the author
Dablacceinstein is a rap artiste, a hip hop observer and a human rap music encyclopedia who is driven by the practice of the true culture. He was inducted into HipHopHead as a contributor in October 2017.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of HipHopHead.