Trap Music Vs. My Morals As A Woman

It's not black and white.

Photo Credit: Photo: David Cabrera

| April 17 2017,

11:11 pm

From loving Sosa to finding a little baby who gon' listen, trap music seems to have made its mark on hip-hop. So many conflicting thoughts surrounding the lyrics, music videos and overall message has people talking. We live in a generation saturated in activism, so how in the world can a feminist or womanist listen to something that goes against all of their values?

Being a woman in America has taught me how to stand up for my beliefs regardless of the opposition, and to be comfortable in my skin regardless of how sexualized others make things out to be. For instance, I stopped wearing bras unless they were needed for support. If I didn't feel as though a bra was necessary for the occasion, I wouldn't wear one. This made people feel uncomfortable. 

Being a black woman in America has taught me that people would be even more uncomfortable.

Let me explain. 

The angry black woman narrative is the most tiring thing I've ever experienced. Trying to correct this image of black women during my everyday experiences is virtually impossible.  From Instagram and Twitter memes, to casual conversations amongst classmates, I've observed black women being downgraded and spat on for just breathing and existing. I'm tired of seeing colorism in its true form shine through my social media accounts, alongside hurtful words about our hairstyles and textures. 

So, from my point of view, you can see how listening to trap music can stir up some internal conflicts. 

What is trap music, anyway? 

"It's something that talks about getting something," said Alexa Lisitza, editor-in-chief and founder of Caged Bird Magazine. 

Though Lisitza isn't an avid listener of music, she has a valid point. Whether it's getting money, social status or getting laid, the moral to most trap songs are primarily focused on "getting."

"Trap music has a certain allure to it," stated Ashley Thompson, blogger and author of What Are We? Defining the Whatevership. "It paints a picture of a lifestyle; Painting what people desire."

For most people like Lisitza, it's very repetitive in terms of lyrics. The thing that seems to change the most is the beat, and for trap music, this seems to be its biggest asset. When you go out to the club or to a kickback, this is the music that gets everyone lit. You don't necessarily have to know the words to the song as long as you chime in on time for the chorus. 

"It fits the culture," said Charlie Taylor, content creator for Caged Bird Magazine. "Trap is good turn up music, but that's all it is. It's artistically childish in terms of lyrics and message."

Collectively, it's argued that this type of music is what killed hip-hop, but the question is: Is hip-hop really dead?

Before answering that question, we have to assess what hip-hop was, what it is and how it's transformed or disappeared. 

"Hip-Hop isn't dead," said Taylor. "Early hip-hop was created to escape the horrors of the south Bronx. It's evolved to a point where it's protecting itself from what the mainstream calls "hip-hop"."

The beats are catchy, and as far as we know, it didn't kill hip-hop, but the question still remains: Why do we love trap music so much, especially since more lyrically based songs come with a certain level of "wokeness "and a sick beat.

If it's just a beat we're looking for, any other form of music would suffice, but it's not that black and white.

"Trap music embodies aspects of black culture not all black people experience," Ryan Washington, a junior english major at Morehouse College said. "And hearing it gives you a chance to somewhat experience it."

"Akin to how people play violent video games," Washington said. "You're not going to commit the actions, but it's fun to experience, or somewhat simulate the experience, simply because it's out of the norm and comes with no consequences that hinder your immediate reality."

As Kodak Black's Painting Pictures rises to the top of the charts, trap music continues to paint pictures of the struggle and success most of us will never know. Though fantasizing and such is a great thing, for younger listeners the fantasies might settle in as concrete concepts. Lisitza touches on this a bit when considering the downsides to listening to this type of music from a womanist perspective. 

"People are impressionable," Lisitza said. "When we think about young girls, we think they shouldn't be worried about how to get a man, but they are."

Lisitza recalls being a young preteen, and always thinking about boys, and expresses that no matter what your interests or preferences are, you've always thought about them. Girls, or anybody for that matter, could take lessons from the lyrics of these songs and interpret that as what's universally desirable. 

Though I have similar views and concerns, I am a fan of trap music and my toughest obstacle is dealing with my love for a good beat and hook and my need to preserve my values.

"It's the epitome of double consciousness," Makiah Lyons, junior sociology major at Howard University said. "You can do, enjoy and be conflicting things in one body, and still be very aware of the two."

"Also, consider that even as a woman, if we were to boycott everything and everyone that went against our morals and personal politics, we'd all be exhausted," Lyons said.

"If you're telling me you like trap music, but you're out here protesting for women's rights or something of that nature, it is a problem, and it's not," Lisitza said. 

Lisitza continues by explaining that there are basically two arguments for trap music. Either you just like turning up to it, or you actually agree with what the song is saying. Most people fit the first argument just because we know the issue. We can see the problematic fallout, but no one takes it seriously.

"It's not black and white," Thompson said. "Most aspects of life are fluid."

"I don't ever feel like I have to chose anything. I can do both. I can be both," Lyons said. "But I think we should be critical of all art forms and the messages they send."

Compartmentalizing seems to be the most common way of coping with internal conflicts such as this. Don't limit yourself and don't put yourself in a box. You can love Lil' Boat without abandoning your values. As Lyons said earlier, we'd all be exhausted if we tried to boycott everything that goes against our personal principles. That's just how the cookie crumbles.