Trillwave, Future Trap, Trap-Rave, Etc.
by Mosi Reeves | October 23, 2012
Since the mid-2000s, when Southern rap became the most popular regional music in hip-hop culture, there has been an intense focus on its methods, styles and idiosyncracies. The sound of future trap -- which has alternately been called "trillwave" and, in a recent Stereogum.com article, "trap-rave" -- is only the latest example of how Southern clichés are bleeding into pop culture. It's a sound built around rolling hi-hats and those ominous, mock-operatic keyboard lines heard in everything from '90s-era Three 6 Mafia to modern-day Lex Luger. It involves both electronic trend spotters, whether they're dubstep appropriators like Borgore or beats 'n' bass adventurers like Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, and underground rap kids crawling out of the nooks of Internet errata, from SpaceGhostPurrp to A$AP Rocky.
Some have called future trap a "made-up genre," which is partially true, if only because no consensus has formed around how it should sound, or even what its proper name is -- hence the title of this post. But it's important to remember that chillwave, another genre seemingly crowdsourced via YouTube and Soundcloud, was once called "made-up," too, until its definition was so clear that everyone knew what it was.
Future trap hasn't arrived at that inflection point, which is why this playlist gathers a wide variety of artists. Schoolboy Q and MellowHype have also been tagged as "cloud rap," yet another genre meme and the flip side of the same coin; cloud rap began on the West Coast, and also involves artists who admire the narcotic "sizzurp" flow of Southern rap. Salem's "witch-house" and Zomby's garage experiments, especially the latter's brilliant 2011 album Dedication, begin with the same influences, but reach entirely different conclusions than club ravers like Flosstradamus and Baauer.
Finally, there's Waka Flocka Flame, a current patron saint for aggressively unhinged Southern culture. With its remixes by TNGHT and Borgore, Waka's recent Rooster in My Rari Mixes single is something of a gimmick, a deliberate play for the Electric Daisy crowd as well as an acknowledgment of the rapper's popularity in dance culture. It's a reflection of the how the strands connecting these admirers of the Dirty South continue to intertwine.