TRAP LOGIC: The Top Five Most Influential Rappers and Producers in the History of Trap Rap
Asheville, NC native Briana Younger is a 21-year old recent Howard University graduate and a true trap rap devotee. With both a degree in broadcast journalism and a successful internship at DC-area FM radio powerhouse WKYS-FM just completed, she’s also fully aware of mainstream music, and arguably one of the few in her generation able to understand the history of the trap subgenre and precisely why it’s so popular. Given pop music’s trap affliction of late, on occasion Briana will bring her opinions to the table in order to make sense of the fray. In short, she’ll be droppin’ TRAP LOGIC. Enjoy! – Marcus Dowling, Brooklyn Bodega, Editor-in-Chief
Disclaimer: The “real” hip hop fans are going to hate this one. There will not be any “classic” artists on this list. Although many legendary artists did (and still do) indeed rap about hustling, it was done in a completely different fashion. East Coast rappers such as Nas, Hov and Biggie simply told their stories. Trap rappers, as much as I hate to admit it, glorify selling dope, getting money and having endless women in an often over-the-top and sometimes absurd manner. It’s nearly the only thing they rap about, always accompanied by the most ridiculously catchy beat. Mostly exclusive to the south, many hip-hop “purists” don’t even acknowledge these artists as lyrical at all, but clearly, given that I’m writing this, that would depend on who you ask.
Top 5 Most Influential Artists In Trap Rap History:
- Young Jeezy is arguably the most influential trap rap artist. Although he had been making music for years prior, his 2005 mixtape, Trap or Die, hosted by DJ Drama had everyone rapping lyrics we probably didn’t even understand at the time. He had suburban kids rockin’ snowman shirts as if we were actually living the life he rapped about. And it wasn’t just mixtape music, as Thug Motivation 101 came out the same year with many of the same songs. TM101 was one of the first studio albums (I knew of) where nearly every song was about shamelessly whippin’ work and being on the block. Although older Jeezy fans (such as myself) probably feel like he hasn’t lived up to that 2005 music, he had remained fairly consistent (longer than most) with his trap music until his recent, and more expansive, TM 103 release.
- Gucci Mane is most definitely the king of the trap rap. The fact that he released a mixtape and named it Traptacular speaks for itself. When you think of Gucci, you can’t help but think of trap rap. Although he hasn’t been as commercially successful as some other artists, his mixtape collection goes on for days. He started his own label 1017 Brick Squad which apparently is a breeding ground for trap rappers, as the likes of Slim Dunkin (RIP), Frenchie, Wooh Da Kid and OJ da Juiceman and Waka Flocka have all come from 1017. “…Got stupid dough, plenty mo’ you think I booked a hundred shows, I’m selling dope.’’
- T.I. is the man many people credit with leading the way into the modern trap rap genre. He saw his first commercial success with 2003’s Trap Muzik. The only reason T.I. can’t hold down the number one spot is because he quickly got out of the genre. Unlike any of the other artists on this list, it seems when T.I. no longer needed to trap, he stopped rapping about it. He doesn’t even really fit in this list, but Trap Muzik and cuts off his 2001 album I’m Serious definitely opened doors.
- Yo Gotti is possibly one of the most slept on southern rappers of all time. Comparable to Gucci, Gotti has a catalogue that is almost ALL trap music. Even his studio album that was released at the top of year is entitled Live From the Kitchen. His Cocaine Muzik mixtape series is has remained consistent since the first in 2008. A lot of people outside of the south haven’t even heard of him, but Gotti is definitely one of the best street famous artists out.
- 2 Chainz (or Tity Boi) has emerged as the new and improved trap rap torch bearer. Few remember his days as Tity Boi or ½ of Playaz Circle, but even at that time, he had the Trap-A-Velli (1 and 2) and Cocaine Cowboy mixtapes. Since then, out of almost all the artists who make trap music, 2 Chainz has branched out and collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the game. His T.R.U. REALigion boasted features from Big Sean, Meek Mill, Jadakiss and Raekwon. Of course, we all heard his feature on Nicki Minaj’s “Beez In The Trap” and G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy.” In fact, it’s rumored (or maybe confirmed via Twitter) that he has signed with the label. More than likely, 2 Chainz has the potential to take trap rap deeper into the mainstream than ever before.
Top 5 Trap Music Producers
- Shawty Redd is one of the original trap rap producers and set standards for many producers that followed. Dating all the way back to 2005, he blessed us with Young Jeezy’s “Trap Or Die,” “Get Ya Mind Right” and “Gangsta Music” in addition to multiple other cuts off TM101. He worked almost exclusively with Jeezy and Gucci over the years appearing on many of their albums and mixtapes. His other credits include Snoop Dogg’s “Sexual Eruption,” as well as tracks with Pusha T, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti.
- Lex Luger became a household name after he blew up radio waves with Waka Flocka’s “Hard In The Paint” beat. He is also the man behind Rick Ross’s “Blowin Money Fast” and Jay and Kanye’s “HAM.” He has produced some of the sickest beats for everyone from Kanye to Meek Mill, Tyga, Wiz and Snoop. Of course, his trap rap credits include Juicy J, 2Chainz, OJ Da Juiceman, Gucci and Gotti.
- Drumma Boy is the award winning producer responsible for Rocko’s “Umma Do Me.” He is also a favorite of Gucci Mane, appearing on 15 of his mixtapes and albums. Hailing from Memphis, TN, Drumma Boy’s list of production credits is long including artists such as Juelz Santana, Chris Brown, Yung Joc, 8Ball & MJG, Young Jeezy, T.I., and Soulja Boy. More recently he’s given us 2Chainz’s “Spend It,” (along with many of the songs on T.R.U. REALigion) and DJ Drama’s “Oh My” featuring Fab, Wiz and Roscoe Dash.
- Zaytoven might as well be Gucci Mane’s personal DJ, as he makes multiple appearances on nearly every single Gucci album dating as far back as 2005’s Trap House. Most trap fans can recognize a Zaytoven beat almost instantly. His most notable beat of the time of course was “Icey” featuring Young Jeezy and Boo. More recently, he blessed us with “White Girl” off Gucci’s Trap Back mixtape and Trap Or Die 2 off Jeezy’s TM103. His other production credits include Soulja Boy, OJ Da Juiceman, Gorilla Zoe, Plies and Future.
- (TIE) Mike Will and Southside are both known for their extensive work with 1017 Brick Squad. Mike Will was the man behind last year’s MMG hit “Tupac Back,” but before that he was doing numerous collaborations with Gucci Mane. He was responsible for almost half the beats on Gucci’s No Pad, No Pencil mixtape. Southside, who often works with Lex Luger, produced eight tracks for Gucci and Waka Flocka’s collaboration album Ferrari Boyz as well as “Illest Motherfucker Alive” from the Watch the Throne album. Between the two of them, they produced almost half of Gucci’s Trap Back mixtape. They have credits that include Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Rocko and 2012 XXL freshman Don Trip.
At the end of the day, whether you consider trap music to be the death of hip hop or it’s the only thing you listen to, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact it’s spreading (see Chicago’s very own Chief Keef). Some might consider Harlem’s A$AP Rocky to be doing some sort of take on trap music. Even Kanye has collaborated with known trap artists and producers (I know you heard 2Chainz on that “Mercy” track). Regardless, all I know is I am surely not complaining!