If Ayn Rand were alive right now, I am convinced she would listen to Gucci Mane. Or at the very least, she would sympathize with the struggles of the trap.
For those unfamiliar, “trap,” in its most basic definition, is a house where drugs are bought and/or sold. The term was born from the rhymes of Southern rap outfits such as Three 6 Mafia and Young Jeezy, whose music was often, centered around the dealings in and outside of the trap.
Trap transformed into a genre on Aug. 19, 2003 with the release of T.I.’s highly influential album “Trap Muzik.” From there, trap was stylistically refined by Atlanta rappers such as Gucci Mane who pushed trap into the common lexicon by referencing the trap a total of nine times in the titles of his various albums and mixtape releases.
The recent popularity of dubstep forged a new union founded on the half-time feel shared by trap and dubstep, fittingly referred to as “trapstep.” The ethos of the trap has now been adopted by numerous mainstream rappers and producers, most notably achieving worldwide success with trap producer Baauer’s infectious single, “Harlem Shake.”
However, trap music has been treated as something of a joke in Atlanta. It’s treated as an ironic genre, primarily used to enliven especially dull parties, or to make parents feel uncomfortable during long car rides. Trap has become the red-headed stepchild of Atlanta that most people keep at arm’s length but still feel obligated to be informed about.
The mere trials of drug dealing in the South have materialized into a worldwide artistic movement, but for some reason this fact is ignored. Even though selling drugs is stigmatized in our society, as a business it is as legitimate as any corporation, any stock broker, or any venture capitalist.
For pure, free market capitalists, drug dealing is the American dream. It gives anyone with connections and ambition the power to rapidly gain money and power merely through providing what people want. Trap speaks to anyone who has found their own means of self-sufficiency when following the norms of society proved to be unfruitful. Trap rappers are the real-life answers to Ayn Rand’s call for rugged individualism and self-interested heroism.
Trap music has reached a worldwide audience. Why? The life of the trap rapper embodies the citizen’s everyday struggle to support themselves through illegitimate means when all legitimate options have failed them.
T.I. sums this frustration perfectly on the track “Doin’ My Job:” “We ain’t out here threatening your lives, raping your children, we just out here staying alive, making a million. Working hard, trying to survive, chasing a million.”
As Atlantans we should embrace trap music, and even if its most basic fundamentals are uncomfortable, trap rappers are an undeniably Southern creation.