The average person on the street recognizes Trap music by its signature synthesized hi-hats, that repeat in quick succession. They help maintain tempo when the lyrics are easygoing and add extra oomph to the song. But trap music is much more than that
Trap emerged from its parent hip-hop genre around the mid-90s. Hip hop then was dominated by anti-establishment voices like 2Pac and Nas. Hip-hop frequently touched on social issues like urban violence, drugs and how the rich were affluent at the expense of the poor.
The trap genre was different from all this. Trap music commercialized the hip-hop way of life. Trap artists abandoned the anti-establishment baggage of hip-hop. Instead, they focused on how they money and personal enterprise to hustle and succeed in life.
This is reflected in the seminal contribution of trap music. Earlier, rappers and artists relied exclusively on some select large recording companies to finance them and release their music. Trap artists led the movement of ‘independent’, meaning largely self-financed, artists.
An independent artist does not beg and borrow from the big boys. Instead, he makes money any way he can- even shady jobs like selling drugs are okay if needed- and funnels it all into building his own record label.
Enter Chicago Santana. Born in Landover, Maryland, Chicago utilized music as a stress-alleviation tool. High crime and racial tensions continue to haunt American society and things around him were quite unstable. Santana took to writing and composition to take his mind off of it all.
Chicago Santana’s name is no coincidence. His friends in the neighbourhood were responsible for giving it to him. The name is inspired by the 1993 controversial Hollywood hit ‘Poetic Justice’.
Santana refuses to sign with big labels and industry hegemons. He has chosen to make a name for himself as an independent artist. Chicago has teamed up with fellow rapper Money Pistol to create the record label ATM- short for ‘Advanced Trap Music’. He has collaborated with hard-hitting artists and producers like Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, Metro Boomin, Waka Flocka, Sonny Digital, and the 808 Mafia.
Chicago has gone through a lot. This has not deterred people from loving his work. He commands a loyal fan following and routinely sells out concerts along the East Coast of the USA. Word is beginning to spread of these up-and-coming artists down south and along the west coast.
With a net worth of 500-800k, Santana has left a lasting impact on the music scene.
Chicago’s song ‘Trapped Out’ gives us insight into his beliefs. The rapper is convinced that keeping drugs illegal does more harm than good. He mocks the establishment by rapping about a flourishing drug business.