Run It Back: How T.I.’s ‘Trap Muzik’ Coined A New Expression For A 2000s Gangsta Rap Revival

Hip-Hop Editor

Grand Hustle, LLC Cinq Recordings

Run It Back is a retrospective review of a classic or game-changing hip-hop releases whose style and sound still resonate with listeners in the modern, streaming-driven era. Hip-hop has always been a forward-facing, youth-oriented culture, but it’s also deeply informed by the past. This is our way of bridging the gap, paying homage to rap’s roots while exploring how they still hold relevance today.

If you’re a rap fan and have been online at any time within the current week, you’ve probably seen that the current topic tearing apart the Twitter hip-hop commentariat is one of ownership. Specifically, factions have sprung up around recent comments made by well-established Atlanta trap rappers Gucci Mane and T.I., who each claim to have invented the “trap” subgenre of rap music which the city has become known for.

While it’s arguable which current representative of the flourishing subculture is most responsible for its invention (that would actually be Dungeon Family member Cool Breeze, with “Watch For The Hook” from his 1999 debut East Point’s Greatest Hits), its naming (Outkast’s Andre 3000 may have been the first to coin the phrase “trap” to mean “place one sells illegal pharmaceuticals” on 1998’s “SpottieOttieDopalicious” from the classic Aquemini) or its popularization, there’s no denying that T.I. was the first to name an entire album after the then-nascent subcategory.

2003’s Trap Muzik was T.I.’s second full-length album and his first under a joint venture with Atlantic Records and his then newly-founded Grand Hustle label. It was by no means the first rap album centered on the culture of illicit drug sales, but it was the album that pioneered many of the genre’s central tenets: Plainspoken, highly-detailed personal accounts of adventures in and around the trap house, the plights of the American impoverished, and the pitfalls of the game, all recounted from the perspective of a homegrown Atlantan pill pitchman who says it as a matter of pure survival.

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