In the wise words of Gucci Mane, “All these rappers are all my children”. In 2016, freshly released from prison, rap icon Gucci Mane released a single for his upcoming project “Everybody Looking” titled “All My Children”. In the track, he recognizes the changed rap landscape since his conviction. He praises himself for his own influence over the sound of mainstream music. His signature charisma and hard hitting southern style beats took over mainstream music with tons of artists using his sound. Artists like Future, Waka Flocka Flame, Migos, Young Thug, Travi$ Scott, and Fetty Wap are all responsible for saturating Gucci’s sound into the 2010s and putting Atlanta on the map as the epicenter of trap music.
These few artists have then gone on to influence a new generation of acts taking the trap sound to new and weirder areas. Lil Yachty uses this pop-friendly persona and careless youthful attitude towards his trap music, taking this very saturated trap sound and making it his own. From Philadelphia, Lil Uzi Vert is taking this traditional trap style and infusing his own gothic and angsty persona into it. While, these artists have pushed the sound and culture into new directions, there have been odd and outlier trap acts that have spawned from them. The music of a Lil Pump or a Lil Xan are a serious dilution of trap music and takes lyrical content and instrumental complexion to a serious low for the culture.
So, here we are in 2018. Trap music is now a part of mainstream culture and being repeated and churned out by a bevy of different artists. In the span of a few short years, trap music went from being an authentic form of telling the rags-to-riches story (21 Savage is a good example of this) to becoming an accessory for white pop artists. Examples of this being Camila Cabello’s summer hit Havana (Ft. Young Thug), which is simply a latin-flavored pop song with a completely unnecessary feature from Jeffrey himself. Similar example is Liam Payne of One Direction’s fame using Quavo as a commodity to make his pop song more accessible to a larger demographic. This use of hip hop artists (specifically Black artists) as commodities for pop audiences is not new, but trap music is quickly falling into that hole. The authenticity of trap music is rapidly diminishing as more artists sell their blackness for popular culture success. However, this leads to the uncertain future of trap music.
Currently, I believe trap music will go into two directions, the first being it will become more developed as a genre and expand widely. If we look at the genre of Metal, it ran a very very short time in mainstream culture, but because it has so many different variations (Thrash metal, Black Metal, Death Metal) that it has not died as a genre. New upcoming artists like Valee, Yung Bans, and SahBabii all take the trap sound and put their own twist on it. If this continues we will see the creation of various sub-genres in trap music (Post-Trap, Alternative Trap). However, if trap follows the route of Disco music, we will see the white audiences of trap chew and spit out the genre as they do with various black cultural music creations of the past. Based completely on the death of Disco music, white or non-black artists (Lil Xan, Lil Pump, Tekashi69) will use the trap sound for popularity and immediately dump it once mass audiences no longer respond to it. Trap music will not survive much longer and it is up to black music artists and black audiences as a whole to protect the genre from becoming another has-been.