But does trap even have anything left to offer?
Essential trap lord UZ dropped the latest installment of his famed Trap Shit series this week, accompanying the 25th edition with the unfortunate news that this would also be the last. Displaying sharp skill in the art of 808s, the enigmatic producer skyrocketed to electronic relevance in 2012 off the strength of a shrouded persona and was on the frontline of the trap explosion. These days you can still hear his early volumes of 'Trap Shit' slipped into sets and mixes, a move that elicits nostalgic reverence in the same vein of TNGHT's 'Higher Ground' or Flosstradamus' 'Original Don' remix.
At his height UZ was arguably trap's greatest maven, a trendsetter who complemented style with substance. When the trap movement became watered down and then ultimately over-saturated, the brand-name carried his relevance, sometimes over the product itself. The 'Trap Shit' series stopped being momentous about a year ago, not-so-coincidentally right around the time when the genre as a whole first found itself in need of a defibrillator.
So while this conclusion is surely disappointing to many of the shrouded tastemaker's fans, the announcement was met by the greater dance community with with little more than a collective 'mmph would you look at that' reaction one might hear uttered from their father reading the Sunday paper.
This is the family-owned, run-down convenience store closing shop after failing to flip a profit since Wal-mart moved into town 4 years ago. It's the former all-star calling it quits after hobbling around years past his prime before being relegated to a bench role. It's you postponing your departure from a party with another round of lines only to take a look around the trashed living room at 4 in the morning as 80s soft-rock plays in the background and finally accept that the fun ended hours ago. The true underlying message the end of this series delivered is one whose writing has been on the wall for awhile now––trap is dead.
Before dropping to one knee and throwing up your prayer emojis out of respect for a fallen EDM soldier, this is more symbolic of a graduation ceremony than a funeral procession. The trap movement UZ helped usher in may be no more, but it led to varied offspring that continues to nurture and develop the harmonious marriage of hip-hop drums and electronic tones. Future bass is thriving in all its synthy wonder. Tech-bass is a beautifully dark work of genius. Even the sublime bass-house, despite being more rooted in your standard 4 to the floor structure than boom-bap kick-snare, owes much of its personality as a genre to the fads cultivated in trap's original incarnation.
In times like this it is better to accept change and reflect on what was rather than what's no more. The fact that the tracks being released in 'Trap Shit' stopped being a thing to behold a long time ago shouldn't marginalize UZ's accomplishments as a whole. He's an OG of the trap movement who almost single-handedly pioneered many idiosyncrasies of the scene, some of which are still relevant. The cloaked producer has still never revealed himself, an impressive feat considering this information obsessed age we live in.
So in honor of UZ, Trap Shit, and the golden era of hip-hop laden stateside bass music, let's take a look at his greatest contributions:
The 'dance' in electronic dance music is a term used pretty loosely, "electronic lose your shit music" might be more appropriate. Trap arms became the go-to move for bass stages everywhere. I had the chance to see UZ spin when he first burst on the scene and what struck me at this show was the conviction that he unleashed his trap arms with. The natural comfort with which he rocked out with that move at such an early part of the game made it an easy steal for legions of impressionable fans looking for ways to run the trap. It's tough to trace the origin of this seemingly natural response to filthy trunk rattlers to one person, but all signs point to this man.
Confusing Trvp Font
Nothing worse than talking about how much you love Loudpuck only for a condescending fratboy to let you know that 'actually bro its LOUDPACK, the V is a stylish A', throwing your entire existence as an in-crowd constituent in jeopardy. When UZ did it, accompanied by those cool pseudo-emoji guns, it was cool, stylish, and took minimal effort to decode. Once the cat was out the bag on this edgy font enhancement, everybody from your aged piano teacher to your backwoods, half-racist cousin Jimmy was on2d4tsh!t. Oh, and if you haven't stopped using it in every trap-related status feel free to carry-on as usual, most people silently unsubscribed from you a long time ago.
Listen to some of the first volumes of Trap Shit and you'll hear a soundbyte that became so played out that it's hard not to cringe when listening. 'DAMN SON WHERE'D YOU FIND THIS' became synonymous with 808 fire back then. Picked up by many and ubiquitious within months, the 'Damn son' line was the most well known but not the only byte that got washed. Sprinkling tracks with chants like 'BOUNCE' and 'REAL TRAP SHIT', UZ swapped out cheesy electronic female vocals for party-starting male vocals that only became corny once absolutely everyone started doing it.
No, UZ wasn't the first to throw snare rolls in a track. He was the first, however, to deploy them so brazenly wiith a lack of regard for human life. Whereas previous snare rolls were simply tacked on at the end of a 4 or 8 bars or to fill space before a drop, UZ knew no bounds to where his snares could roll, exuberantly letting them fly across the track whenever he felt. These were not rolls one could lazily include in a reduced capacity, almost as an afterthought, to signify the bassline was coming back. These were snare rolls worthy of starring roles. They played the fleet-footed Kobe to Shaq's behemoth sub-frequency during trap's glorious championship run as EDM's genre du-jour.
Certainly not the first to use a cloud of mystery as his main selling point, but the intrigue he kicked up with the way he did it was unparalleled in electronic music at the time. Fellow trap maestro Ookay burst onto the scene spinning with his face concealed by a bandana. Bass enthusiasts showed up in droves to clubs and festivals with bugged-out eyes peeking over a cloth. Dare I even suggest without UZ there would be no Zhu? Yes, I do dare. UZ exemplified more than anyone before him just how much of a force the the drawing power of anonymity is, something I doubt was lost on a talented artist as tapped into electronic trends as UZ's deeper anonymous counterpart.
So although UZ's contributions to the trap game may have been so attractive that they were appropriated to the point of watering down the sound he himself helped originate, it's no blemish on the talents of the man himself. UZ will most likely find a new guise, a new voice to re-emerge with, and hopefully he comes out with tunes so good that we all start ripping him off again.
Mycah Seals killed a man - @OculusPiff