If you're aged between 14 and 20 you must have heard some of those names, and if you listened to a song from those rappers you would probably remember all the violence associated with their sound...
Yesterday, while I was buying two tickets for a live show of Bones - another trap rapper with a very aggressive sound - I started wondering on what happened to trap and rap music, and when we started loving this sound. (NB: I'm not talking about the lyrics, those have always been rough and violent, for example, some of Immortal Technique songs were simply too much to handle).
Rap music is living a period full of innovation and experimentation, it's been two years more or less since we those innovations started also with mainstream rappers' music, and that's important, mostly because innovation was a key element of the underground scene. Having a K-Dot that drops an elaborate album like “DAMN”, with singles in it with millions of views on YouTube, is priceless.
Some important figures of American hip-hop wrote that we're living in a second Golden Age, and I agree. Rap music is trying to break down all the walls created in decades of history of the genre.
A key element of today's rap game came from metal. Don't get me wrong , artists like Rage Against The Machine mixed rap with alternative rock and metal during the 90's, but they were not considered properly part of what is called rap game and I think that legitimizes the exponential growth and diffusion of violence in rap music.
Rap artists have always been sampling metal groups, let's think about Three 6 Mafia sampling Metallica, Vinnie Paz dropping an album called “Heavy Metal Kings” or Busta Rhymes using a Osbourne's refrain. But what used to happen years ago was completely different: those examples were isolated and sporadic, those were songs that would never approach mainstream radios.
Instead, today we have A$AP Rocky who puts songs like this in his albums, Denzel Curry that calls his 32-dates tour “Black Metal and Terrorist”, Lil Uzi Vert that uses a cover for his tape “LUV is Rage” which is clear reference to Metallica.
In 2013 the average rap listener wasn’t used to listening to that kind of music: in just a few years the public changed and so did rappers. Let's try to listen to Ghost Mane. He always talks about the Devil, and his lyrics contains lot of suicidal thoughts and drugs abuse. You may sometimes wonder if you're listening to a stoner metal group or a Los Angeles rapper.
But metal references invaded also rap fashion and look. It's easy to find rappers wearing metal shirt: from Bones wearing a Burzum shirt or Travis Scott wearing a Slayer shirt.
The image of Kayne West, a key figure of rap fashion and streetwear, wearing an Iron Maiden oversized shirt became quite popular.
The entire streetswear world is making steps toward an epic swing. Here's an interesting article about metal fonts in that kind of fashion.
At the moment we are living a second meeting between hip-hop and metal. Something similar to what happened between the 90s and the 00s with the rise of nu-metal is happening again. But there are also lots of differences: today rappers are trying to make their sound more violent, we have no mainstream bands that do stuff that even metalheads or rapper listeners like.
Today's rappers are trying to do something completely new and different!