The Sound Of Muzik: What T.I.’s “Trap Muzik” Means 15 Years Later

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Despite being his second album, T.I.’s Trap Muzik launch a sub-genre of rap that has reached incredible heights. With the likes of Future, Migos, and a lot more all making “Trap Music” and taking it further than we’ve ever seen, the impact of Trap Muzik the album, must be discussed.

If we’re discussing the ORIGINAL origin of the term, it would go to Cool Breeze of the Dungeon Family with the song “Watch The Hook” from his debut album. Andre 3000 also has a part in the term being coined “Trap,” using the word in 1998’s “SpottieOttieDopalicious,” to describe a “place one sells illegal pharmaceuticals.”  No one doubled down on the thought process of “Trap Music” though until 2003’s Trap Muzik from T.I.

The term “Trap” is really referring to a house, that usually has one exit, making it a “Trap” if the police come because there’s essentially only one way out.

By no means was T.I. the first person to say the word on wax, invent it or anything of that nature, but he, for the most part, was the person to take the term to another level and advance it further than anyone had done at that time.

It wasn’t the first album to go in-depth about selling drugs, but it was an album that pioneered a certain sound and telling tales of being in the trap daily. The accounts of his days in the trap were delivered with razor-sharp focus, his words about being black and impoverished were spot on, and the wins and losses one would take trapping were all on display. A number of artists followed up with their takes on the trap such as Jeezy’s TM101, Gucci Mane’s Trap House and more. Atlanta then became a hotbed for music and artists and producers seemed to blow all the time, following the years after Trap Muzik.

Pack that with some crazy production from the likes of early Kanye West, DJ Toomp, Jazze Pha and more there was no way T.I. could lose here.

Once we start to dig into actual songs, there are a number of important ones.

The lush sample from Kanye West on “I’m Just Doin My Job,” by Bloodstone is exceptionally fitting. Before T.I. raps, he says:

“Aye I’m working here, know what I’m saying try to put yourself in my shoes for a second Its not personal I’m just saying though.”

From those opening lines, it’s obvious that this is a song rooted in the entire thought process of trapping. T.I. lets off a number of lines and bars that any young black male can relate to.

“Our mamas passing, by trying to explain us/Pissing in the bushes like they never house trained us.” I can’t think of many young men that haven’t been outside so long or just having so much fun outside that they opted to use the bathroom outside opposed to going back in the house. T.I. does this out of necessity, because he was essentially trapping so much going in the house wasn’t an option.

Next was the relationship between a trapper and the people he’ll have to trap around: We ain’t out here threatening your lives, raping your children/We just out here staying alive, making a million.” Trapping for TIP was vital and necessary for survival no matter the circumstance. That’s all he was he doing though, he wasn’t harming anybody or overstepping any boundaries. Of course, no one wants somebody selling drugs around them, but T.I. was trying to explain that without this he couldn’t eat, so he did it.

Trap Muzik also has something vital that makes it stand the test of time: Hits. “24’s and “Rubber Band Man,” are both trunk rattling slappers produced by DJ Toomp and David Banner. With those two hits, it was clear that Trap Music had a place in Hip-Hop, and thus it blew up after that.

Aside from those hits, T.I. also illustrates a smoothness with women while sticking to his hard exterior. “Let’s Get Away” is him talking to a woman about getting away over a very beautiful organ loop that reached #10 on the US Hot Rap Songs chart. “Let Me Tell You Something” is even better but without the commercial appeal, but production that’s flawless (Thanks Kanye West) and a Roger Troutman sample that’s perfect.

He doesn’t forget to pay homage to some of the very people that were early on talking about trapping before it was sub-genre like 8-Ball & MJG who feature on “Bezzle,” and that right there lets us know TIP knows what he’s doing. We’re sure he didn’t know what Trap Music would become in 2018 helping artists reach number 1, feeding numerous families and have illustrious careers off a sound he helped shaped drastically. Trap Music isn’t the same as it was in 2003, but with new players come new rules and different perspectives on it. Many have tried their hand at it, many have failed, but T.I. is undoubtedly instrumental in bringing the sound to the forefront and being a catalyst for it. Trap Muzik is a classic through and through because of how T.I. presented his life to us with detail, preciseness, and honesty. This is something that was not present on TIP’s previous major label release, I’m Serious. With Trap Muzik, T.I. worked to embody who he was a not only an artist but also as a person. In doing so, Trap Muzik laid the foundation for the trap sound that lifted Atlanta into the prerenal house of hip-hop it is today while embracing the rugged duality that characterizes our idea of the King of The South.