How HipHop evolved from Boom Bap to Trap: A 2023 Overview
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The Beginning of Rap Music
We’re today here to talk about The Story of HipHop. To be exact, how HipHop evolved from boom bap to the trap music of today. Its story spans from the late 70s, through the changes of the 90s to the modern era of 2020s. So, without further ado, let’s get into it because it’s just as fascinating as the music itself! So, Hip-Hop. What comes to mind when you hear those two syllables? Is it the gritty sounds of the streets or the pulsating beats of the club? Whatever it is, the genre has become a cultural phenomenon over the decades, influencing music, fashion, and even politics to a certain extent, without a doubt. But how did this musical genre emerge, and how has it evolved over the years?
From its humble beginnings in the Bronx in the 1970s, HipHop has certainly grown to become a global phenomenon, with artists from all corners of the world contributing to its rich tapestry as of now in 2023. Over the years, it has undergone various transformations, each new wave adding its unique flavor to the mix. From the funky sounds of the 80s to the gritty realism of the 90s, hip-hop has always been at the forefront of musical innovation for sure.
Today in the modern world where music streaming services & YouTube are feeding the consumer base, HipHop is more popular than ever, with artists like Drake and Kendrick Lamar dominating the charts. But how did we get here? What are the roots of this vibrant musical culture, and how has it evolved over time? This article seeks to answer these questions, exploring the evolution of hip-hop from its origins to the present day. Specifically, as I said before, we’ll examine how HipHop evolved from the Boom Bap era to the Trap era of the 2020s, and the subgenres that emerged in between. So, sit back, grab your headphones, and let’s take a journey through the evolution of hip-hop.
Boom Bap Era (The late 1980s-1990s)
First, let’s give respect to the Boom Bap era of hip-hop, where the beats were sick and the rhymes were real, literally speaking. This period, spanning from the late 1980s to the 1990s, was defined by a style of production known as Boom Bap. So, what is it, exactly?
Boom Bap is all about that hard-hitting, head-nodding drumbeat. It’s a style of HipHop production that’s characterized by the use of classic soul and funk samples, chopped and rearranged to create a new sound. The drums are the foundation of the track, with other elements such as basslines, horns, and vocal samples added to create a textured and layered sound.
During the Boom Bap era, French artists like IAM and MC Solaar were killing it with their unique style of lyricism in Europe, while US artists like Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest were pushing the global musical boundaries of the genre with their innovative use of samples and intricate rhyme schemes.
But it is important to note that Boom Bap was more than just a sound, it was definitely a culture of sorts. The emphasis on sampling in Boom Bap production influenced the way producers approached making beats, while the introspective and socially conscious themes of many Boom Bap tracks set the stage for the rise of conscious hip-hop in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Moreover, the fashion and language of HipHop culture were heavily influenced by the Boom Bap era. Baggy jeans, oversized t-shirts, and Timberland boots were the uniform of choice for HipHop heads, while slang terms like “dope”, “fresh”, and “fly” became part of the HipHop lexicon.
Golden Era (Mid 1990s- Early 2000s)
The Golden Era of HipHop emerged from the Boom Bap era of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the era we just talked about. It was a time when HipHop was reaching its peak in terms of popularity and cultural influence if I’m being honest, and the music was characterized by its soulful samples, iconic as always hard-hitting beats, and socially conscious lyrics. Simple yet so complex, just like that.
This Golden Era HipHop is often associated with artists such as Tupac Shakur, Beastie Boys, Eric B. & Rakim, Queen Latifah, or even Public Enemy. These artists were known for their storytelling abilities and their ability to address issues such as poverty, crime, and racism in their music.
European examples of Golden Era artists include French artists like Fonky Family and Oxmo Puccino, who both rose to fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Fonky Family was known for their political lyrics and their ability to capture the essence of Marseille, the city where they originated from, in their music. Oxmo Puccino, on the other hand, was known for his introspective and poetic style, which often explored themes such as love, identity, and social injustice.
The Golden Era of HipHop had a profound impact on modern HipHop for sure too. It paved the way for the emergence of new sub-genres, such as gangsta rap, conscious rap, and alternative hip-hop. It also laid the foundation for the mainstream success of hip-hop, as artists such as Jay-Z and Nas later went on to become household names and icons in the industry.
Overall speaking, the Golden Era of HipHop was a pivotal moment in the evolution of the genre in the long run. It showcased the power of HipHop to reflect and comment on the social and political issues of the time, and it set the stage for the diverse range of styles and sub-genres that we see in HipHop today too.
Southern Rap (Late 1990s- Early 2000s)
Southern Rap, also known as Southern HipHop, is a subgenre of HipHop that emerged, again, in the late 1990s and early 2000s from the Southern region of the United States. It is characterized by its heavy bass, slow tempos, and use of samples and live instrumentation.
One of the defining features of Southern Rap is its emphasis on storytelling and vivid imagery. Southern Rap artists often rap about their personal experiences and the culture of the South, covering topics such as poverty, crime, and racism. Many Southern Rap artists also incorporate elements of gospel, blues, and funk into their music, giving it a distinct sound and feel.
Some of the most notable French Southern Rap artists include Booba and Rohff, who have both achieved significant success in the French HipHop scene. In the English-speaking world, Outkast and Ludacris are among the most prominent Southern Rap artists, known for their innovative use of production and catchy hooks.
So, it’s safe to say that Southern Rap had a significant impact on the sound of hip-hop, introducing new sounds and production techniques that would go on to influence many other subgenres. Its use of live instrumentation and emphasis on storytelling helped to elevate HipHop as an art form, and its popularity paved the way for the rise of other Southern HipHop subgenres, such as Trap, which is our next stop in our article.
Trap Music (The mid-2000s- Present)
Trap music, another very popular subgenre of hip-hop in the modern world, emerged in the mid-2000s from Southern rap, specifically from the city of Atlanta, Georgia as far as the resources say. This music is again characterized by its dark, heavy beats, 808 drums, and aggressive lyrics. The term “trap” comes from the word “trap house”, which is a term for a place where drugs are sold.
It is distinguished by its heavy use of synthesized drums too, particularly complex hi-hat patterns, and tuned kick drums with a long decay that was first popularized by the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine.
Lyrically speaking, Trap music often deals with themes of drug use, street life, and urban violence, and its artists often boast about their wealth and success in the music industry. These lyrics are often delivered in a fast-paced, staccato flow, which emphasizes the beat and the energy of the music.
European countries have also contributed to the development of Trap music of course, with artists like Niska and SCH leading the charge. Their music reflects the characteristic sound of trap, but with a uniquely French twist, blending elements of Afrobeat and Dancehall with the hard-hitting beats of trap. I suggest you give them a listen if you haven’t roamed into the French side of hard-hitting trap beats.
US artists like Future and Migos however, have also been instrumental in the development and popularization of Trap music for sure, with their distinctive flows and catchy hooks. Their music has a highly addictive quality that has made it a staple of mainstream hip-hop in our opinion.
The rise of social media and streaming services like SoundCloud and YouTube have also played a significant role in the success of Trap music, to say the least. With the ability to upload and distribute music on these platforms, many emerging artists have gained exposure and built dedicated fan bases, leading to a democratization of the music industry in 2023.
So, today, as of now, Trap music has become a dominant force in hip-hop, influencing not only the sound of the genre but also fashion and culture. It has spawned numerous subgenres and has expanded beyond the United States, with artists from all over the world creating their own interpretations of sound. Certainly, from traditional hip hop off cassette tapes to the modern TikTok-dominated world of Trap music off streaming services, this genre has evolved on itself in many ways. Trap music has become a dominant force in hip-hop and is enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. With its infectious beats and powerful lyrics, it has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in HipHop and has cemented its place in the history of the genre.
As hip-hop continues to evolve, subgenres have emerged from Trap Music too, each with its own unique sound and style, as we just discussed. One other major such subgenre is Drill, which originated in Chicago and features aggressive lyrics and hard-hitting beats with heavy basslines. French-speaking artists like Freeze Corleone have emerged in this subgenre, showcasing their own take on the sound in Europe.
Another subgenre that has gained popularity is Mumble Rap, which is characterized by its use of heavily autotuned vocals and minimal lyrics that often focus on materialism and partying. English-speaking artists like Lil Uzi Vert have become well-known in this subgenre, showcasing their ability to create catchy hooks and melodies. This is not my favorite kind of music personally, but the beauty is based on the consumer’s ears, so I understand the popularity of it among its fans.
Other subgenres that have emerged include Cloud Rap, which features dreamy and atmospheric beats, and Emo Rap, which focuses on emotional and introspective lyrics. These subgenres have allowed for even greater diversity within the HipHop genre, showcasing the versatility and creativity of the artists involved, in my opinion.
Overall, the emergence of these subgenres has allowed for HipHop to continue to push boundaries and evolve, showcasing the many different styles and sounds that can be incorporated into the genre. The emergence of French & other European artists in these subgenres also showcases the global reach of hip-hop, as it continues to grow and influence cultures around the world.
So, we just went on a wild ride through the evolution of HipHop, to say the least! From the gritty, hard-hitting beats of Boom Bap in the 1970s to the catchy, trap-infused sounds of 2023, HipHop has been constantly changing and evolving. We explored how the Golden Era brought a new level of lyricism and storytelling to the game, and how Southern Rap introduced a whole new sound to the mix.
But it’s not just about the past, of course! Hip-hop is still evolving and influencing popular culture today. From the rise of subgenres like Drill and Mumble Rap to the constant experimentation with new sounds and styles, HipHop is always pushing the boundaries and breaking new ground.
So, what’s next for the future of hip-hop? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be dope. As long as there are talented artists out there pushing the limits and creating new sounds, hip-hop will continue to shape and reflect the world around us.
Whether you’re an old-school Boom Bap head or a new-school Trap fanatic, one thing’s for sure: hip hop isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. Peace out!