I haven’t got a clue what Trap music is. At least I didn’t think I did before I undertook a little Google-based research last night. Turns out that Trap music is what’s been on the radio ever since T.I.’s King dropped. I remember enjoying most of that album, but are we still feeling the fallout from that production style seven years on? I guess there’s more to the history and merits of Trap music, and who’s to say its no more relevant than any other school of beat-making in Hip-Hop but, as you’ve no doubt gleaned, I’m no expert on it. All I saw were album covers that either looked like a Goodfella’s sequel poster or a champagne bottle label, and a feature from Zordon on every track on punchline-repeat duty. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and taking the wrong perspective, according to Philly-born, Phoenix-based (but always on the road or in the air) emcee Random, who opens his TRAP EP with the words ‘take off your judging cap… put on your thinking cap‘.
Whilst this EP is about turning the Trap sub-genre on its head, it does so by retaining the trademark boom, hiss and clap of 808s over buoyant bass lines; a far cry from the usual 8-bit themed production of Random’s other rap alias, MegaRan. The club-banging beats play host to Ran’s lyrics of greater substance; you can think of the EP as a Trojan horse, but benevolent in nature as opposed to malicious.
Where “Slow And Steady” tackles the topic of the grind in a much less abrasive and much more respectful way than your average Trap rapper would, “Turn Me Down” explores the trappings (ha!) of relationships warped by social networking. On paper, you might think that this content can’t go hand-in-hand with this production style. Random himself acknowledges the likely raised eyebrows within the short-burst bars on the first verse of “Trouble”: ‘backpackers all like he can’t do that, can’t do trap music and boom bap, how they gon’ tell me what I can’t do trap?‘. Of course it’s all pulled off flawlessly thanks to Ran’s malleable flow.
The overall output on TRAP is knowledge and wisdom, naturally considering Ran’s background as a school teacher, but the agenda is still “fun” as he makes clear on “Hometown Prophet” with the reverse hashtag rap: ‘Wayne and Garth; we gon’ party on!‘
TRAP is available to download now. Be sure to do so for an exclusive bonus track (including that all important feature from Zordon).
Recommended further listening: a mid-week tradition for me since it dropped, and since today is indeed… “Wednesday” – Random & Mr.Miranda
Photo credit: Agatha Donkar
Phoenix readers can catch MegaRan performing this weekend at The Hidden House Lounge.