1. Originally trap is not a music. Is an (altered) state of consciousness.
1.1. In United States, trap houses are places where drug is sold. And their music is a chant to that drug market.
1.1.1. Trap is not the first rap subgenre that sings to the drug market. Gangsta rap did already that. The difference is that gangsta rap was doing it from the employer perspective (“Never get high on your own supply”) and trap does it from the consumer perspective, meaning: the true merchandise. “The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product” (William Burroughs).
1.1.2. Drugs also have changed. In the 80s-90s they were psicoactives like cocaine and crack. Now they are psicodepressives like opiates. In United States, it is estimated that there are 2,6 millions addicted to opiates, from which 30.000 die every year (a dead every 17 minutes).
2. Musically speaking, trap is not what we could call original. And therein lies its charm.
2.1. Triplet, the metric structure currently popularized by Migos’ Versace, is already in Moonlight Sonata op 14 by Beethoven, in Bring the Noise by Public Enemy, or in Small Time Hustler, by the Dismasters. Nothing new under the sun.
2.2. Autotune, the voice modulator that has become the distinctive of recent trap, was not invented for music. It is based on an algorithm developed by the engineer Andy Hildebrand in order to detect oil deposits. And sure he found them!
2.2.1. The Autotune is anyway not the first voice modulator. See Talkbox and Vocoder. This latter was used by Daft Punk in Around the World and Cher in Believe. This songs have a certain retro-futuristic approach: from the past, they forsee a future that never took place. Like the year 2015 in Back to the Future.
2.2.2. The first trap singer that used autotune in all of his songs was T-Pain in his debut album from 2005. The inspiration didn’t come precisely from the underworld. It happened while listening the song If You Had My Love by Jennifer Lopez, in which she uses autotune to reach the highest notes, when T- Pain thought: “I want my voice to sound like that”.
2.2.3. The most critical song to Autotune would probably be D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune) by Jay-Z. Released in 2009, this song relates trap to the economic crisis: “I know we facing a recession / But the music y’all making gon’ make it the Great Depression / All y’all lack aggression”. JAy-Z reproaches the trappers their disagreement towards heteronormative masculinity: “Stop your bloodclot crying / The kid, the dog, everybody dying, no lying / You niggas’ jeans too tight / You colors too bright, your voice too light (too far nigga) / I might wear black for a year straight”. He’s also bragging about his economic class: “I’m a multi-millionaire / So how is it I’m still the hardest nigga here”
[...] To be continued […]
7. "What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either" (Frank Ramsey)