The mentioning of the term “trap music” in mixed company will always yield mixed results. While there will always be individuals like myself who see past the negative stereotypes and appreciate the genre for what it is; a signiﬁcant amount of electronic music lovers would describe it as “cliche” “inauthentic” and lacking a true identity. Sadly, the over utilization of high pitched, squelching siren synths and “shake your booty” samples have given the genre a reputation that will be hard to shake.
This is truly a shame, because as a self proclaimed trap aﬁcionado; I believe that there are many positive aspects of this overlooked genre. It is just a matter of hacking through the over saturated artists to ﬁnd the true gems; and once you ﬁnd them, you’ll never want to stop looking for more.
Music festivals like counterpoint are great places to ﬁnd “authentic” trap artists because you don’t have the same glamorous, hyper inﬂated corporate vibe of festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra. I nearly burst a kidney when I saw Hucci on the lineup; because not only is he one of my favorite trap artists; Counterpoint would be the ﬁrst festival he headlined at in North America. I wasn’t expecting to see any other trap talent over the course of the weekend; but unbeknownst to me I was in for a pleasant surprise.
I woke up on Saturday morning still feeling a bit hazy from jet lag and the arduous check in process my friends and I had dealt with the previous evening. I wasn’t expecting to see any artist until Kill Paris came on around ﬁve, but I found myself roaming aimlessly around the festival grounds after I got tired of microwaving myself in the Georgia sun and smoking cigarettes outside my tent. I eventually found myself watching Chris Bushnell at the steeple stage; and while his set certainly wasn’t bad; he played a bit too much progressive house and hardstyle for my liking. That being said; he also threw down some classic trap anthems, and I found his ability to blend together vastly different genres to be up to par.
A strange intuitive feeling caused me to stay at the steeple stage after Bushnell was ﬁnished with his set in anticipation of even greater things to come. Almost immediately after Bushnell walked off stage, I observed a slightly stocky white guy decked out in streetwear take over along with his thinner African American accomplice. They introduced themselves as Mayhem, a trap duo from Atlanta; and it was a this point that I realized what had prompted me to stay. The sense of local pride in the crowd was almost overwhelming; I felt as if at least half the audience had seen this group at a dive bar at some point before they blew up. I felt honored to be part of this sentimental experience, and the minute the ﬁrst drop hit and I felt that thick 808 pulsate through my body, I knew I was in for a good set.
Unlike many performances where the crowd energy ﬂuctuates throughout; I found that over the course of Mayhem’s bone shattering hour long set, there wasn’t one second that the crowd could have been described as even remotely lethargic. From the passionate, aggressive chanting of the term “ATL hoe,” to the abundance of sexually charged females; the whole thing could’ve made Asap Ferg question his status as the
Trap Lord. On top of that, the production quality was also high, with samples being interjected appropriately and transitions executed as smoothly as possible. Although there wasn’t much time left in between drops, this performance style was justiﬁed given the crowds consistent engagement in the set. To top things off, Mayhem’s accomplice spiced things up by crowd surﬁng towards the end, and I even had the honor of shaking his hand. All in all, this was the most pleasant surprise of the entire weekend, and just thinking about it makes me want to get up and chant as I am writing this.
When the time ﬁnally came around to watch Hucci’s set later that evening, I couldn’t have been more optimistic. Prior to attending to Counterpoint, I had listened to both of his Eps almost on repeat for months. I ﬁgured that nothing could stand in the way of me enjoying his set to the fullest, and that anyone who had anything negative to say about Hucci had no taste in trap music. You could say that I inﬂated my expectations a bit, because I would soon ﬁnd out that not everything is what it seems.
The ﬁrst red ﬂag that presented itself to me was his stage presence. Rather than engaging with the crowd and feeding off their energy, Ollie “Hucci” O’Neill seemed to view everyone as a tool to inﬂate his ego more than anything else. As I observed him standing there nonchalantly in sunglasses, arbitrarily waving his hand from side to side and taking cell phone videos, I couldn’t help but think that his performance left a lot to be desired. I can usually put up with an unpleasant demeanor if the set is particularly enthralling, but there seemed to be a lot missing on that end as well. The combination of poorly executed transitions and a lack of original tracks led me to question my faith in this producer in general. While I positively love the laid back, liquid trap sound, which still surfaced in his set, the negative stimuli unfortunately proved to override the positive in this case and I left feeling relatively disappointed. After witnessing such unanimous positive energy during the Mayhem set, which I wasn’t even expecting, being let down by an artist that I had previously held in such high esteem put a damper on things a bit. The mere fact that “Ball So Hard” and “Desire” were the only original compositions I recognized over the course of the entire set was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. Come on, Ollie, I’ve listened to Novacane and Rose Gold at least a hundred times each and you only give me one track from both those albums to get down to? What were you thinking?
Perhaps I am being a bit too hard on the guy. As a young producer myself, I know how difﬁcult it can be to construct a good set. I guess I just romanticized this individual so much that he would’ve had to throw a damn near perfect set for me not to complain. But at the end of the day, life goes on.
And if I didn’t already made my point exponentially clear, Mayhem positively killed it!
Written by Reed Sligar
Posted on May 21, 2014