Why 'Trapsoul' is One of the Most Important Albums of 2015

Why 'Trapsoul' is One of the Most Important Albums of 2015
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| December 28 2015,

02:00 am

Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul might have had the most important album name in contemporary youth culture
. It was released in October on RCA Records.
Can trap and soul music, considered opposites, be combined into 14 songs on the same album? Especially into a song entitled “Right My Wrongs?” Soul could certainly gain from Trap’s understanding of youth. Trap can certainly learn to progress from Soul. Tiller has made soul out of trap and has offered our culture a tool for betterment.Both Trap and Soul were born in the urban South as musical outgrowths of everyday living. Soul was born to both the Southern Christian mentality and to the Southern progressive social thought. Trap was born out of gang culture and both business and musical ingenuity. Trap goes a long way back in southern music. Goodie Mob used the word trap in the 1995 song “Thought Process,” which was about being down and out. Would a classic soul singer such as Isaac Hayes even like Trap music? Hayes certainly wouldn’t just push Trap away. It is an important mix of genres. They seem to be opposites, but one can imagine instances where both could have everything to do with a Southerner’s everyday life. Thus the adage that “we’re all just human.” Tiller might be telling us that those who participate in trap have souls, and these 14 songs are proof. Tiller might also be asking those who participate in Trap to consider their souls. Regardless, Tiller is mixing two potent genres of music into a call for introspection at time when it is in dire need.Conceptually, it is at the vanguard of its time. Musical-direction-wise, it's good but nothing mind blowing. Unlike Drake, Tiller does not surprise with beat choice. Lyrics-wise it's also nothing innovative, it's just a good version of what already exists. The album is well-made, clear, and is melodic. It stresses melody and rhythm more than anything. Tiller’s grasp of melody is what makes this album a good weekend listen. In terms of rhythm, he seems to not be able to choose what will bang or explode. He sings us what sounds like contemporary city life the whole way, with an amount of introspection that is extremely pleasing.
The album’s music and visuals feel closer to contemporary R&B culture than it does to Trap or even to Soul — but it is both. Most of the songs are about the bitter side of love and living through that. Perhaps the only song that O.V. Wright would sing would be “Right My Wrongs.” Tiller’s introspections are, to paraphrase James Baldwin, “things that we cannot fix until we face them.” Very little of Tiller’s songs have anything to do lyrically with Trap. It's very behind in terms of Trap musical direction. Trap seeks recklessly to innovate. Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy’s first explorations in the genre are now the past. Musicians such as Fetty Wap and Future have exploded any sort of standard that Gucci Mane’s album Trap House
wanted to set. Perhaps Tiller made some concessions in order to mix the two.Tiller’s background is neither a traditional soul musician’s or a trap musician's. However, any artist is free to choose whatever category his music belongs to. Bryson Tiller’s very popular music mixes two commercial genres into an album with serious cultural significance. It’s also the thought that counts. Him wanting to make soul out of Trap culture — a progressive stance — deserves an ovation.Emanuel Adolf Alzuphar is a music critic. He attended the George Washington University. His twitter is @alzuphar.



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