There’s a lot of talk amongst the internet that exclaims that we have reached ‘peak-trap’. Publications like Genius and internet personalities like TheNeedleDrop have investigated whether or not the stylings and sounds of trap music are beginning to fizzle out, now that they’ve dominated music for quite some time. As the elements of emo and alternative music have begun to trickle into mainstream hip-hop with artists like Princess Nokia, Trippie Redd and formerly Lil Peep, it seems that a new sound is on the horizon to replace trap. However, upon listening to Playboi Carti’s debut album Die Lit, it seems like the genre has a little more in the tank.
Playboi Carti is a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia, the home of trap music. He broke into the limelight through his affiliations with Awful Records and began to generate some steam with his 2016 hit ‘Broke Boi’. It wasn’t until his debut self-titled mixtape last year that the mainstream caught wind of his talents, with songs like ‘Magnolia’ and collaborations with ASAP Mob seeing his notoriety rise. Playboi Carti’s style has always been somewhat different from his contemporaries, with his ad-lib heavy style and off-kilter flow contrasting the auto-tuned singing trend that dominated the charts. These stylings that once made him the odd one out, have provided him with the ‘it’ factor that is saving trap music from extinction.
Carti’s ideas on Die Lit defy the peak-trap theory in almost every way. While many argue that the sounds of the genre are becoming stale and overused Carti, along with producers like Maaly Raw, Pierre Bourne and Don Cannon, present unique takes on trap’s fundamentals. The warped, atmospheric samples on ‘Fell In Luv’ are both obscure and interesting. Whereas songs like ‘Love Hurts’ are minimal to the point where a kick drum is absent. It’s this approach to the sonics of the album that prove there’s a lot more you can do with the basics of trap production.
While the album is musically experimental, it’s Carti’s vocal inflexions that take this into territories never seen before. He comes equipped with a nonchalant swagger of flows and adlibs, making his music peculiar and polarizing. Songs like ‘Poke It Out’ are repetitive to the point of earworm catchiness, and others like ‘Lean 4 Real’ finds Carti warping his voice into new territories of obscurity. Lyrically, the content stands beside the production in terms of minimalism, but the way that Playboi Carti utilizes his vocals and flows make this album interesting. It’s a method never seen in trap before, and the influence it will have on future artists will increase the lifespan of the genre.
Most trap music is tackled with a heavy southern hip-hop influence, Carti uses his infatuation with punk music to redefine the sounds, and make it something truly anomalous. Everything from the album cover to the short song times is undeniably punk, and it’s the give-no-fucks attitude that Carti possesses that makes this album unique. The song spans are brief and straight to the point on songs like ‘Shoota’ and ‘R.I.P Fredo’, but the sonics challenge the normalities of the genre it exists in. The title Die Lit sums out the punk-influenced nature of this album purposely, as it’s a piece of work that is looking to create hype no matter what the cost is. This concept challenges the grinding, hustler narrative that is running old in trap music and morphs it into a mosh-ready genre with a stronger, enhanced future in store.
While Die Lit may go against the grain of your typical trap album, it utilizes its fundamentals to push the genre forward. Its production is exploratory, venturing across soundscapes that usually don’t pair with an 808. Carti’s vocals are far-fetched but intriguing and innovative. The punk nature makes the album flourish in a melting pot of effortlessness. While this project will divide, it will definitely conquer as it warps the remains of trap music and reinstates its reign over the mainstream. Playboi Carti may Die Lit, but his impact will live on.
Perth: May 29, Metro City
Sydney: March 30, Enmore Theatre
Brisbane: May 31, Eatons Hill Ballroom
Melbourne: June 1, Forum Melbourne
Auckland: June 2, Powerstation