Urban music seems to be expanding like crazy. The rise of rap sub genres is growing more and more everyday. It seems like the younger generation is becoming simple, yet and still creative. The newest sub genre of rap is called “trap” and it originates from southern rap. This brand of rap has been made popular by rap artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane, Wacka Flocka, Young Jeezy, an Ace Hood.
A trap beat is a down tempo high energy dirty south beat. In musical terms, they usually contain a lot of minor second intervals, or has key modulate in minor seconds. The signature to this style of music seems to be the rapid hi hat rolls. Producers and beat makers frequently use high tempos in the range of 130 to 165 beats per minutes. Instead of the back beat snare or clap lying on the second and the fourth beats of the bar, a typical one bar measure is extended over two bars and the snare or clap lies on the third and seventh beats. Producers use this method because it enables rapid quantized drum rolls. Since a drum roll synced at 1/16 would sound like 1/32, and a 1/32 would sound like 1/64. This would allow a sequencer to sequence drums synced at rhythms that sound like 1/128 or 1/256. And there lies the foundation to a trap beat. Producers know the old saying, if you have the drums correct, you are half way home.
Another trend that I notice in trap beats is the heavy use of reverb on the main instrument. There is usually one stand out instrument placed with a heavy reverb effect such as a grand piano, electric guitar, or synth. It is usually a simple melody that repeats over and over and modulates up or down. The method to the madness is very simple, but don’t under estimate the complexities that are put into this.
The main element, and probably the most important element in a trap beat is the bassline. Lex Luger made the distorted 808 sub bass line very popular in this genre. By slightly distorting an ordinary 808 sub gives it the underground “hood” or “trap” feel that seems to be craved by all of the up and coming new artists.
While this new genre of urban music is very simple in musical terms, don’t under estimate the complexities that are put into it. There is a lot of advance sound design that many producers use to create their own brand of sound, and the mix techniques that are used make up for the lack of musical complexity.