Rap and hip hop music as we know it now is quite different from what it was right at the beginning. It appears that there are two distinct camps, people who like the rap music of the 1990s and early 2000s, and people who are more into today’s ever-popular trap style of music. Today’s rap is different but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s now a new generation of rap and it has come to the fore because the market has changed. 

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The History of Trap 

Trap music is the key driving trend behind rap music today, but its origins go way back to the 90s. At the time, American East Coast and West Coast rap had gained momentum, and became the dominant force in music. Because of that, people didn’t realize that the American South already had its own burgeoning scene and its own distinct sound. Rappers like Lil Wayne came out of the Southern rap scene, as did Three 6 Mafia, the group that Juicy J came out of. 

Southern rap went mainstream when the Atlanta scene started getting attention in the early 2000s with crunk. Who could forget how popular Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys were? But trap music still existed and had a lot of fanfare, but something changed over the last 5 years. Trap music went mainstream and became the most popular sound of hip hop songs. Artists like Young Thug, Waka Flocka Flame, Future and Fetty Wap started to rule the airwaves, charts and music downloads. 

So what characterizes this type of music, what do people like about it and how is it different? 

How Trap Gained Mainstream Notoriety

The 1990s and early 2000s are considered the Golden Age of rap music. It’s when artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Mobb Deep made history with albums that are considered hip hop classics today. That sound was characterized by lyrical prowess paired with an unforgettable beat. Another facet that became very popular was collaboration with R’n’B artists for melodic hooks. This is a trend that has continued till today which has made music a lot more interesting. 

A lot of the old school aficionados of old school rap feel like new school artists have departed from the importance of lyricism. They often question if new school artists need to be taught the basics of how to write a song. But the truth is, this is just what is in trend right now. What really sells a song right now is the hook, or the chorus. According to Flypaper.com, “trap is a platform for the hook, and everything else is secondary.” That’s why when we think of most of the most popular songs today like Bodak Yellow, Rockstar and Black Beatles, what we remember is the hook and then the beat and then some of the lyrics. 

The Pressures Artists Today Are Facing

How songs are written is a lot different to how they were written in the past. Bear in mind that in the 2000s people were more likely to buy full albums, where now people download singles. That means early rap had the luxury of 10-20 tracks to tell a story, where today’s artists have to strike with just a single because the consumer is inundated with so much new music to choose from, and artists have to stay relevant with music that quickly interests people. Artists are even under pressure to release new albums more than once a year to keep up with the demands of consumers and the need to maintain popularity in a highly crowded music scene. Not to mention the fact that social media buzz plays a great role in how successful a song will be. Artists have to make a very good impression in a short space of time. 

But what a lot of people don’t appreciate about today’s era of music is how many options the listeners have. If you just pay attention to what’s on radio, you might think that’s all the music there is but there’s a lot more if you follow the underground scene. From experimental rap to the more traditional 1990s sound, you can find what you’re looking for quite easily. 

Earlier this year, a beef between Machine Gun Kelly and Eminem basically symbolized the debate about old school vs. new school rap. But the truth is, both sides feed off each other. The older generation inspires the young stars, and older generations collaborating with new rap starts reinvigorates them and keeps them on their toes. This is a good thing that ultimately benefits the rich canon of hip hop and rap music.