Hip hop reviews are always at the mercy of the reviewer. As a reviewer, I pull no punches regarding my personal bias. I make it clear that the sound that I favor is that mid-nineties, east-coast sound. I’m talking AZ, Nas, HOV, Rae, Ghost, and of course, B.I.G. No matter how history reclassifies the “golden” era of hip hop, the period between 1993 and 1997 will always go down as one of the best eras for the culture.
With that premise, I’m a fan of diversity in 2015 hip hop. There are so many styles making waves in Richmond and there is a place for them all. Check the homies over at Gen Y, see what the Satellite Syndicate is doing, MCs like Evan Barlow and Michael Millions have styles all to their own. There are a lot of different zones, way too many to name. And yes, there is a significant place for Trap music within Richmond hip hop. In fact, in many ways Trap music is the current catalyst for the entire genre right now. What’s coming out of the Trap is dominating the streets, and eventually mainstream artists are adopting the sound and culture to maintain their relevance. Look at how artists like: Gucci, Migos, Gotti, Future, and Waka are influencing the culture. For better or for worse, Trap music is a major part of hip hop, so if you think those Migos records are going to go away, they may but not anytime soon.
When it comes to RVA Trap music, I will be the first to tell you, I’ve haven’t heard enough to consider myself “an expert.” Currently, I’m listening to those artists that are sent to The Cheats Movement (TheCheatsMovement@gmail.com) and I meet out in community. Artists like: J. Slim, RUM, Junny, Ed Da Realist, Y.A.N.K.E.E are telling stories from the block that are resonating throughout RVA’s hip hop community.
But there are a few problems with RVA Trap music that I have discovered when reviewing the music that is sent to me. They are similar problems within the larger hip hop landscape but it seems to be an epidemic in Trap music. So while I do not have the answers, I do want to share my concerns and hear your feedback regarding RVA’s Trap scene…here we go:
1. THERE ARE TOO MANY RVA TRAP RAPPERS AND NOT ENOUGH GOOD ONES
My rule has always been if you’re on The Cheats Movement, not only do I think you’re good, I think you’re good enough for me to share with the entire Cheats Movement Family. But the truth is a lot of tapes I get never make it to the site and I would guess 90% of the RVA Trap records I get are not good enough for me to share. I understand that everyone has a dream. I wanted to be a pro baseball player. The problem with rapping is that it can be done by anyone with a home studio and a dream. The internet has made everyone not only musicians but also music executives. Now, everyone is Master P in 2015. Every Trap star can now produce records with Young Jeezy quality. The problem is that your neighbor is more than likely not the next T.I., Young Jeezy, Gucci, or even Waka. Yet, the streets are flooded with these artists and records. It’s still supply and demand, good music raises the entire community. We just all must understand that a flood of bad music will do just as much damage.
2. RVA TRAP MUSIC NEEDS MORE AUTHENTIC STORIES, TOLD WITH CREATIVITY
When you’re talking about music that comes from the streets, there is an expectation of authenticity. I actually think that is starting to correct itself so I will spend my time on the latter part: WITH CREATIVITY. If you think about it, the most successful artists from 2Pac to T.I. told stories from the streets but it is their creativity that captivated the culture. There are only so many ways to tell a similar story, therefore, artists must be creative to make those stories stand out. ATL artists Key! performed in Richmond earlier this year. I was able to see him and Goth Money Records Goth Karma perform on the bill. I would say their creativity is what stood out to me in both of their performances. You don’t have to spit bars like Nas to be creative. A lot of the Trap rap I hear follows the same formula and blends into the other trap records with no creativity. I understand that you love your hood, the block is always buzzing with drug activity, and there are shooters on every corner. What is it about your story that I haven’t heard? The creative factor is what seems to separate the levels of music these days but it does take a risk to be unique. Is there enough risk in RVA’s Trap music?
3. EVERY RVA TRAP SONG CAN’T BE MADE BY THE SAME PRODUCER…CAN IT?
This just may be a personal problem but do a lot of Trap records sound similar to you? If so, multiply that by 300 and that’s what a lot of RVA Trap records sound like that I hear. Way too many cats are sounding similar, which I’m sure is annoying for those artists who take the time to create their own sound. I loved the competitive spirit of the 90’s Ghostface said on his album, “don’t bite my sh**,” and if you did, he’d come after you. Nowadays, I’m not sure if it’s direct biting but there is a lot of similarities in the RVA Trap sound which I think hurts the artists.
Those are a few issues that I’ve discovered listening to RVA Trap music. What are your issues? Am I on point? Who should I be listening to? Do you think RVA Trap is a fad within hip hop? Let me know…I want to hear from you.