State Of The Hip-Hop Union: Trap Is Plateauing
This time last year, my first article was a sort of message to Hip-Hop as the Year 2018 came in. I quite enjoyed writing it, so I thought I would make it a yearly thing. A "State of the Hip-Hop Union" address! Last year it was asking both the Old & New School to grow up. And considering what happened in 2018, I think the dialogue has relaxed a lot. Whether anyone's opinion has changed remains to be seen.
This year, its what I call an opinionated prediction. Trap music, as the most popular sub-genre of Hip-Hop, is plateauing.
Now I am not saying its dead or dying per se, I am saying that it cannot grow any further. Why do I think this? Well, put simply, every sub-genre has its day. Their respective peaks vary of course but they all gain popularity and then fade slowly. Trap is no different. I've never been the biggest fan of Trap, although I will say I've gained a respect for it in recent years. Partly because I've seen how far it's come as a sub-genre of Hip-Hop.
You hear it everywhere now. Mainstream Music, TV shows, Film. Most of the latest dance crazes come out of Trap music. Look at Black Panther for an example. Killmonger, symbol of African American pain & anger. What is the musical theme when he takes the throne? Trap beats.
While this is all great from a notoriety perspective, it also says that it can't get any bigger than this. And I think that rappers know this.
Look at the most popular Trap artists right now. Migos. They recently announced that their album "Culture 3" will drop this year. The response? People either rolling their eyes, shrugging shoulders or asking "How many tracks this time? 50?". You could combat that by saying that's a response to them blatantly playing the Streaming game by having as many tracks as possible so they rake in more stream $$$, but I see it as people getting a little bored of them & Trap as a whole.
Don't agree? Fair enough. Let's try looking at R&B? I talked about R&B recently and how its lost its identity through taking Hip-Hop beats and simply crooning over them. Since Trap is the most popular, that's what most popular R&B artists are going for. With Mainstream R&B basically a softer Trap, it's speeding up Trap Music's saturation three-fold.
And what about the wave riders? You see what Drake is looking at now? Collaboration with Chris Brown.
He's done the Trap wave, the Grime wave, the Dancehall wave and every wave in between. Now, because he saw that "Nice For What" made such a cultural impact, he's going to see where that goes. Mr "Legend At The Bank" isn't doing Trap no more.
My last reason for thinking that Trap is plateauing? The young artists realise that classic Trap needs revamping. Some are looking to go harder and add some Rock or Metal inspiration, some are adding more soulful elements. But nobody is going straight down the middle anymore.
Again, Trap isn't dead or "dying" in the literal sense. It's simply hit its ceiling. Other Sub-genres of Hip-Hop are coming up at a rapid pace, from both sides of the Hip-Hop spectrum. It's only a matter of time before the suits see this and put their eggs in a different basket.
Which one will replace Trap as the "Symbol of Modern Hip-Hop"? We'll have to wait on that...