“Ruining the culture”: Trap Music and the Generational Gap

A generation gap or generational gap, is a difference of opinions between one generation and another regarding beliefs, politics, or values. In today’s usage, “generation gap” often refers to a perceived gap between younger people and their parents or grandparents. Here lies the problem. In recent memory there has been a lot of talk about the new/current generation of Hip-Hop artists and their music. Discussions of the topic often times begin with some “old head” complaining about how this music is ruining the culture. Times have changed, the age of trap is here. It’s safe to say that the trap genre is more popular than it has ever been and is widely recognized as such by the mainstream American audience.

Trap music as we know it has been in the makings since the 1990s when producers and rappers alike defined the sound of the south. The emergence of the trap subgenre was primarily due to the great emphasis placed on deep bass bumps, tinny snares and hi-hats. The use of these synthesizers and others is the source of trap’s foreboding, gritty, and bleak sound. Often times, these ominous beats are paired with equally or sometimes more ominous lyrical content and subject matter. Both the beat and the lyrics are synonymous with the theme and true meaning of the trap. The trap is a place riddled with desperation and hardship; it is based on observations of poverty, street life, violence and drug dealing. Each one of these realities acts as a snare, trapping an individual in a lifestyle that is difficult to escape.

Although the trap theme has remained the same for over 20 years now, the sound has evolved. Trap music from the 90s sounds much different from contemporary trap music. In each era the sound has changed noticeably, even from year to year.



1992


1996


2003


2005


2012

2017

The evolution of trap music symbolizes a generational gap and a shift in culture which is also responsible for the creation of the trap subgenre. Trap music is derived from the gangsta rap of the 1980’s, specifically the lyrics and subject matter; as well as the crunk subgenre of the 1990’s which heavily influenced southern producers. These are both subgenres of the past – the music of the “old heads.” Trap takes elements from both of these subgenres; elements that are widely considered distasteful now were cherished and enjoyed by these same “old heads” in the past, but were also vilified by the ones that came before our “old heads.” Consequently, like the ones that came before us we will continue to blast our music out of our cars with our windows rolled down, in our homes disturbing our neighbors (they probably white anyways, fuck ‘em), and through our headphones so loud that we’re disrupting the peace of public spaces.

Music is forever changing and, some would argue, getting better. Being open to the new sounds of music is the only way to keep music from becoming repetitive and remaining stagnant. Trap music may be a lot to take in at times nonetheless it is one of the most popular sounds of the new era.

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