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What Is Trap Music?
Trap is a style of music that combines elements of hip hop, rap music, electronic dance music, electro house, and dubstep. Trap is defined by the triplet beat—also called the triplet flow or Migos flow within the trap world—in which three beats are played in the space it would normally take to make two beats, giving trap a rolling, hypnotic sound. Trap is also anchored by its synth beats, using 808 drum kits with rolling bass and hi-hat. The name “trap” comes from local Atlanta slang referring to drug deals.
The History and Evolution of Trap Music
Trap originated in the Southern part of the United States in the 1990s, specifically Atlanta, Georgia. Some of the most well-known early trap artists in the 1990s were 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, UGK, Ghetto Mafia, and Master P.
As trap music developed in the 2000s, the influence of electronic dance music (EDM) evolved the trap sound. The electronic beat element of EDM became more pronounced in trap, producing new trap beats that sounded similar to trance house music. In 2012, EDM producers such as RL Grime, TNGHT, and Baauer increased trap’s popularity by incorporating trap beats into their sets. These EDM producers released a compilation album called All Trap Music in 2013 and it quickly became the biggest selling EDM trap album ever.
Trap music continued to gain traction in the mid-2010s and crossed over to the mainstream with hits like Fetty Wap’s 2015 mainstream hit song Trap Queen. Today, trap artists continue to make new music, and the style has influenced music production for mainstream hip hop artists like Drake, Cardi B, Migos, and the A$AP mob.
3 Characteristics of Trap Music
Here are three common characteristics of trap music.
- Synth beat: Influenced by club music and dubstep, trap is distinguished by a trilling, electronic triplet drum beat which allows artists to alternate between fast and slow rap styles. Trap beats make use of synth drum sounds from 808 drum kits, especially kick, snare, clap and hi-hat electronic beats. Trap beats also use distortion and reverb effects to give the sound a gritty edge. The speed of the trap beat typically falls between 130 and 170 BPM.
- Triplet flow: Trap music is typified by the triplet flow where artists hit three beats in the space it would normally take to hit two. This creates a rolling, irregular rhythm. Trap’s triplet flow is also sometimes referred to as the Migos flow, because of the artist Migos’s song “Versace,” in which the word “Versace” is repeated in a triplet flow in the chorus.
- Rolls and risers: Trap beats can be distinguished by using rolls and risers—mod