During a recent Saturday night out, you might have noticed that there’s been a slight shift in Argentina’s predictable go-to boliche playlist. Reggaetón haters rejoice, there’s now music that’s a little different to the usual (and occasionally tedious) repetitive tunes to which you’re so often subjected. Reggaetón lovers, get used to the fact that your beloved music might just become slightly overshadowed by the new kid on the block.
Trap music, although a recent novelty in Argentina and the rest of Latin America, in reality, is nothing new. It’s been around since the early 90s, when the unique mixture of electronic and hip-hop genres was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Usually including lyrics that are harsh and bleak, trap artists often use the genre as a platform for expressing their tough experiences on the street, the stark realities of a life spent in poverty, and their personal struggles for success. The word ‘trap’ refers to the places where drug deals are made. Telling the stories of the North American lower class, the emerging genre gave a voice to a generation that felt marginalized by society.
Initially an underground music movement, trap only really began to gain popularity in the US during the early 2000s. These days, North American trap artists like 2 Chainz and Future are now enjoy international fame and recognition. From 2015, the genre is really only now taking off in Argentina. Forming its own region-specific sub-culture, suitably known as Latin trap, it’s distinguishable from its North American roots due to the strong influence taken from regional music. A little less gritty and a bit more commercial, the most well-known Spanish Language trap artist is Puerto Rican performer Bad Bunny. With millions of monthly Spotify listens and 10.8 million YouTube subscribers, Bad Bunny has safely crossed over into the mainstream. Known as a reggaetón artist hybrid, purists who have followed trap since the beginning may question if he can be directly classified as such.
However, it goes without saying that this bridge between different musical genres has led to more and more young Latin Americans choosing to create their own varieties of trap music. Combining elements of cumbia, dancehall, reggaetón, and trap, Latin trap has strayed from its originally harsh North American roots to create music that in many ways is easier on the ear and more commercial, making it easy to see why it’s popular with scores of younger millennials.
The use of social media has also allowed Argentine trap artists to achieve fame and recognition much more quickly than their North American predecessors. One of these artists, Duki, who at just 22 years old boasts over 47 million views with his single ‘Si Te Sentís Sola.’ As one of Argentina’s biggest names in trap, Duki combines rhythms found in both reggaetón and rap; his music is a unique blend of trap’s tough original sounds and more rhythmic electronic Latin American genres.
Córdoba-born Paulo Londra is another young trap artist. Still living with his parents, the 20-year old rose to fame back in January 2017 with his single ‘Relax.’ Countering aggressive stereotypes often associated with trap music, Londra is keen to do things his way. His songs, which are all about positivity, good vibes, and gratitude, avoid the usual trap references to violence and drugs. Keen to push the boundaries and stray beyond the boxes of traditional trap, he’s probably the most polite trap artist around. Having already worked with the likes of Bad Bunny and J Balvin, his videos often push the view count beyond the 100 million mark.
So what’s behind this sudden surge in popularity? With a listener base that mainly consists of teenagers and those in their twenties, the rise and ease of social media use among the millennial generation is key in quickly catapulting young Argentine artists to fame. As their popularity and distribution continue to grow, trap stars are continually getting younger and younger, harnessing the power of digital platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud to get both themselves and their talent quickly noticed.
Not without criticism though, many trap songs are unapologetically misogynistic, with compromising lyrics that objectify women and glorify men. While many choose to ignore the true meaning of the lyrics, it can be difficult to see past the explicit rhymes that reduce women to nothing more than sexualized objects. Colombian born Maluma has frequently been criticized and challenged about his vulgar and demeaning lyrics. It’s a valid question as to whether anyone who is in favor of gender equality would actually want to tune in to hear these sexist or machista spiels. Of course, you could argue that trap is an art form in itself, and artists are free to express whatever they like; however, it’s hard to ignore how distasteful and prejudiced many of these lyrics can be.
But trap’s reputation should not wholly be based on a few misogynistic examples. There is, in fact, a female wave of trap music that’s both questioning the many sexist stereotypes and creating quality trap music without the offensively explicit machista content. Argentine Trap artist Nathy Peluso, who emerged in January 2017 with her hit ‘Esmeralda,’ aims to show that you can be a powerful woman, feminist, and trap artist all at the same time. Influenced by jazz, soul, hip-hop and trap movements, Peluso creates songs that are personal and about subjects she cares about. As a creative performer who brings color and energy to the stage, she sings and raps and acknowledges herself as being outside of the usual trap music stereotype.
Ms Nina, another Argentine female reggaetón-trap singer is also looking to change typecasts that come along with these typically male-dominated musical genres. As a strong, empowered, female artist, she aims to create equality through her lyrics by encouraging people to be themselves. In a genre that is so often macho and homophobic, trap for Ms Nina is instead a vehicle for people to feel free and speak their minds, whomever they may be.
Here’s to Argentina making waves in the worldwide trap music scene.
If this has made you keen to see some Argentine trap in person, Duki will be playing on October 5th and Paulo Londra will take to the stage September 28th. Tickets can be bought here. If you’re up for seeing Trap at a more low-key gig, try Ciclo-Asteroide on June 23rd at the Ciudad Cultural Konex. Tickets can be bought here.
Bonus Track: If you’re still not really sure if trap is your bag, get a kick out of this ridiculous remix based on Spanish artist Diego Velasquez’s iconic “Las Meninas” painting.