Trap music. So we can pretty much universally agree that Trap music might not be the most ‘women friendly’ genre. In fact, there are multiple memes and articles surrounding the struggle between being a feminist and loving Hip-Hop, catching yourself singing along to lines like ‘fuck bitches, get money’ or Young Thug's gem ‘if she ain’t a virgin then the bitch is only average’. The genre is a boys club musically, as much of Hip-Hop is, but Trap particularly is almost completely made up of male rappers and singers. The narrative in Trap music revolves around two gender archetypes, the guy; a trapper, getting high and getting money while women are dispensable to him. The woman; a stripper or female using her sexuality to get money while men are dispensable to her. This is an interesting dynamic because there is some sort of messed up equality in it all. Guys support females by shouting ‘get that cash’, in some way saying, I am gonna use you regardless, so might as well get your own in the meantime.
I think what is so interesting is that this is a type of empowerment mostly prevalent in ‘black’ music. I was speaking to a girl and she was complaining about female representations always being somehow meek and dependable to men, even when smart. She doesn’t listen to Hip-Hop and I realised then, that Hip-Hop is one of the only arenas women are empowered by phrases like ‘boss bitch’. It’s a place where the female is admired for getting her money independently, being a bitch and using men to fulfil her needs, the same way they do. There is a freedom appointed to ladies that listen to this type of music and that is what can be empowering. Women can be aggressive and tough in Hip-Hop, they adopt that ‘do what you have to do’ mentality that is typically only appointed to males. That fighter mentality. This is respectable in both men and women within these songs. We don’t see too many damsels in distress in Trap music and honestly it’s refreshing and empowering to not play the heartbroken victim. The intricacies of this mentality and its romanisation can be problematic and although some women find power in taking it back from those who objectify them, others don’t. The same theory runs true with the genre as a whole.
Trap music was born out of Atlanta during some major shifts, with councils demolishing public housing projects in 1995, poverty soared and it hit the poorer African American communities the hardest. With the spaghetti junction in Atlanta taking you to every city on the east coast, Atlanta became a real drug capital, this was reflected in the music starting with people like Hip-Hop producer DJ Screw and Three 6 Mafia, then more mainstream artists like T.I and Gucci Mane. Some people question whether artists are glorifying a lifestyle a lot of black people don't want to be a part of but can’t quit because of the way the system is set up. I mention this because it may be a parallel to the empowerment women feel when listening to trap, we imagine ourselves to have power over the oppressor, this way some control is regained and perhaps the same applies for those stuck in the ‘hood’ - it’s about owning your struggle.
At the end of the day, Trap music is becoming mainstream, it is empowering on a generic level because it is about the ‘come up’ and the ‘turn up’, two things that most people can relate to. Trap music finds a lot of it’s first waves of success in strip clubs and when I hear rappers talk about blowing cash on ‘hoes’ I think there are worst ways to spend money than on a women completely in control of her own sexuality, a women using her body rather than hiding it. Sure the language is problematic in many ways and perhaps it isn’t the most effective manner of empowerment but there is irony and a subtle out-witting, in taking the songs meant to objectivity her and using them to highlight her power and attractiveness. She is playing to their fantasies and winning the game.