Sunday, November 24, 2019

Straight outta Atlanta… to Bratislava, Warszawa, Roma, and just about everywhere

About eighteen months ago I went on a trip that passed through a bunch of European countries. Along the way I met up with a series of old friends. The conversation would invariably turn to our kids and the music they were into - and the answer was invariably ​“Trap!”. During this trip I also gleaned that each country had its own local version of trap.

Since then I’ve been itching to write a piece on the internationalization of trap. The opportunity came with an invitation from The Face to contribute to their “looking back on the 2010s” coverage, with a piece on how the trap beat has dominated the decade - and traveled all across the globe.

Despite its seeming redundancy – it’s so very close to the Real Thing, of which there is no shortage in the first place – I was surprised by how enjoyable I found much of this Czech, Polish, Italian, Slovakian, French, Moroccan etc trap. Despite being unable to understand the lyrics at all. Which underlines one of the points in the piece: the relative downgrading of lyricism as a component of this music. Instead, it's all about the slippery glisten of the Auto-Tuned vocal, the becoming-melody of speech, the moans and the murmurs. Pure flow.  

As much as That Beat, it's this vocal mode midway between rapping and crooning - along with the peculiarly indefinite affect that its glazed texture embodies - that has struck a chord across the world, and that seems to have caught something of the not-so-secret sadness of our time. 

Big up to those who pointed me in the right direction: Miloš Hroch, Agus Tomaszewska, Jan Błaszczak, Damir Ivic, Sadmanbarty, Beatrice Finauro. Etienne Menu.