Trapsoul… it’s popular, ultra-modern and arguably avant-garde, exploiting the set rules of Hip-hop and Rn’B like the neo-soul movement of the 1990s; pioneers like Lauryn hill, D’Angelo, Eryka Badu and Maxwell borrowed elements from both genres to create a fresh sound (‘the fusion’). Trapsoul is the modern version of this same borrowing nature.
It’s very hard to define and encapsulate Trapsoul due to its diverse nature but it’s the love child of ‘the fusion’, taking the hard and gritty, story-telling nature of hip-hop, softened by the soothing, harmonious nature of Rn’B/soul to create the enjoyable, thought-provoking genre we have today.
To really understand Trapsoul, one has to grasp the term of ‘trapping’. The most recognisable definition is what urban Dictionary calls “to sell drugs in order to make money and support oneself”. But trapping extends to what an East London teenager describes as “doing whatever you can to make ends meet”. Everyone’s trap is unique, it can vary from trying to ace your A levels or GCSEs, to setting up a business or making music.
The genre has resonated with the youth especially as many aspire to escape their ‘trap’ and be at the successful positions of these Trapsoul artists just as Hip-hop has done for years. Yet Trapsoul offers a more widely relatable lifestyle because not everyone is selling drugs. Popular Trapsoul artist Bryson Tiller was working at Papa John’s just over two years ago, whereas Tory Lanez was living homeless from his teenage years until his record deal. The genre is influenced by struggles and accomplishment; its music “that has come from the bottom”.
In 2016 Trapsoul pioneers cannot be ignored, especially with artists such as Kehlani whose ‘You Should Be Here’ was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2016 Grammys despite being a mixtape. Fetty Wap’s self-titled album debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. There is a great surge of fresh trap-soul artists dominating the music game like PARTYNEXTDOOR, Dreezy, Post Malone and TY Dolla sign whose ‘FreeTC’ album, dedicated to his jailed brother, has been well received. The song Miracle featured his brother TC who sang it while in prison, showing the struggles of having a family member incarcerated, breaking boundaries in true Trapsoul nature.
With such great hope for the future in such artists it looks as though Trapsoul is here to stay and is ready to be its own genre; These artists “have been working for it, putting in overtime” (Bryson Tiller, Overtime) and are now reaping the benefits of this purely innovative genre.
By Francis Ewa
Francis Ewa is an Upcoming writer
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