Two Atlanta greats quibble about trap music’s origins
On Saturday, Gucci Mane went to Instagram and posted a throwback picture, where he proclaimed himself the inventor of trap music. When he says trap he doesn’t mean triplet hi hats. He means trap music, which, essentially, is drug dealing music. More specifically, it’s music about the everday grind of producing and distributing narcotics in Atlanta. (Just in case you don’t know, a trap is a hood; a traphouse is dope house.)
Here’s his post:
It’s understandable why he might think this. Gucci’s debut album, Trap House, dropped 13 years ago, in the early stages of southern hip-hop’s mainstream rise.
But does that make it true?
On Monday rapper T.I. seemed to be replying to this claim. On Instagram he posted the cover and release date of his sophomore classic, Trap Muzik, which dropped two years before Gucci’s debut. In his post, he says he invented trap music. It’s a claim he’s made multiple times:
So that settles it, right? T.I. is the inventor of trap music. Not exactly.
Trap music has roots going back to the early ’90s.
In an interview we conducted with Big Boi a couple of months ago, the rapper said that the very first time you heard trap on a song was on “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” off of the 1998 album Aquemini. On the song Big Boi caps off his verse by saying: “So now you back in the trap. Just that, trapped. Go on and marinate on that for a minute.”
But the word trap goes back all the way to 1991. On Kilo Ali’s debut album, America Has a Problem, he raps “quarter to three before I hit the trap” on “Keep on Rollin.” After that, you heard other legendary Atlanta acts rap about the trap. Acts like Ghetto Mafia, check “In Da Paint,” and Goodie Mob — listen to “Dirty South.”
But it was really Dungeon Family’s Cool Breeze who exemplified what modern day trap music sounded like — highly skilled, intricate drug dealing raps over brooding production. That sound could be heard all over his classic debut East Point’s Greatest Hits, which he didn’t call trap music, specifically. But it’s trap music.
And it came before T.I. and Gucci Mane.
That is all.