Trap music – the genre behind the “Harlem Shake” hype

Roland 808

Roland 808

With the current “Harlem Shake” hype taking over YouTube by storm, it can easily be overlooked that the track that started this hype is only one example of an entire musical genre. I also have to admit that I was aware of it for a while already, but didn’t really start digging deeper until recently.

“Trap music” originated in the early 2000s in the southern part of the USA, and it was more or less a sub-genre of HipHop. If you would like to learn more about the history, Wikipedia has a pretty good overview.

The genre has changed and forked quite a bit over the years, but characteristic elements of Trap are broken 808 drum beat patterns, rolling snares and hi-hats, repetitive and fast-triggered samples,  sweeping sub-basslines and layered synths. In recent years, some electronic music producers started stripping the original HipHop-Trap music from the vocals and started throwing elements from other electronic music genres (like Dubstep, House or Moombahton) into the mix.

The “Harlem Shake” has probably helped a lot in raising attention for this genre, but there have been many artists who have been active in this for a while already. To get a good first overview, I can recommend the “All Trap Music” compilation.

Because of the use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine (shown in the picture above), it actually reminds me a bit of classic Electro tracks from the 80s and early 90s. An early example of those early Electro tracks would be Afrika Bambaata’s  “Planet Rock“, a later one Westbam’s “Terminator“. The music back then also had a strong link to HipHop, so maybe Trap music is just another crossroads between HipHop and EDM?

Since the typical BPM count of Trap is usually faster than most Techno or House tracks, it is currently being adopted by many Dubstep and Drum&Bass-DJs. In this context, I think Trap might bring an interesting new spin to some DJ sets. I will also give it a shot in the near future, so watch out!

What do you think about Trap music? Do you have any favorite tracks that you would like to hear in an upcoming mix?

Image: fr4dd // CC-by


About marvis (209 Articles)
Marvis is the founder of Sweet Headache. He lives in Cologne (Germany) and has been a music nerd for a long, long time.

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  1. Mix #102: “Dramatic Drums” « Sweet Headache

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