What happens when you combine old school New York attitude with new school flavor? When the gritty, no fucks given mindset of 90s NY hip-hop mixes with the globalized state of modern rap, you get the current landscape of New York City music.
Artists like Young MA, Bobby Shmurda, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, A$AP Ferg and more are bringing a new sort of swag to the city, honoring those that came before them, but adding a new twist.
Sure, there are plenty of old heads calling into Hot 97 complaining about the state and sound of New York City right now, but the intergenerational beef over new hip-hop is just par for the course when the culture moves forward.
Another of these New York rappers pushing the envelope is Trap Ciudad, the Brooklyn native with all the bars. With a newfound determination and focus on his rap career, Trap is poised for a wild 2018.
I had the chance to sit down with Trap Ciudad recently to talk about growing up around hip-hop, the state of New York rap, and his renewed dedication to the music.
It may sound like a cliche, but if you’re a mid-20-year-old who grew up in Brooklyn in the 90s, music and hip-hop is just kind of a part of you. Trap told me his mom gave him a crash course in all the necessary artists when he was growing up.
“I don’t remember anyone putting me on to like rap or hip-hop or anything like that, it was kinda just what was played in the house. Like my mom put me on to Tupac and she put me on to mad shit too, like The Beatles and Joni Mitchell and shit like that, but she also put me on to Tupac. Shouts out to mom dukes. I think I listened to Tupac and then like Eazy-E first. Those are the first rappers I listened to.”
Trap was immediately taken with the art form and he explained that it wasn’t too long until he was trying out his own abilities. Trap says, “I remember rapping when I was 9 or 10. Just like, bullshitting freestyling or trying to insult my boys.”
And while mom dukes put him on to some of the West Coast legends during his childhood, Trap’s influences are very New York-oriented, including Dipset, G-Unit, Jadakiss, Max B, and French Montana.
As for his thoughts on the current New York landscape, Trap Ciudad sees the new styles and sounds coming out of the City as a good thing.
“I think it’s dope. I think it’s cool to see like all the outside influences and how New York does a spin on it. In terms of drill shit, and then like trap or mumble rap, but New York always makes it some New York shit. It’s pretty dope to see.”
Trap’s own music is definitely very New York-influenced. His most recent release is “Red Monkey Jeans”, an Adrian Lau-produced joint that features Trap spitting heat non-stop for two straight minutes.
“Red Monkey Jeans” is the result of Trap starting to take his art more seriously. Although he’s been rapping since he was 9 or 10, he tells me he started truly focusing on his music about 6 months ago. When I ask him why, Trap explains his renewed focus.
“I been making music for so long and people been giving me support and telling me I should do it. I’ve had no reason not to do it, it was more just a fear of failing or a fear of trying and failing. I don’t even know what it was, just bullshit and laziness, I don’t know. But when the fire’s to your ass you kinda just like, do it. So I feel like this is the time to do it.”
Trap tells me that this change of mindset isn’t just about hard work, but also changing up his creative process and “Red Monkey Jeans” is the result of this switch up.
“I changed my whole approach for writing music and kinda more just going in and feeling it out. Not like I freestyled that, I definitely wrote a lot of it, but like it’s just way different, it’s a different vibe. Trying to be more like in the feeling of each song, rather than trying to out-rap everyone… Although that will undoubtedly happen (laughs).”
The Brooklyn kid definitely has the bars. He also has the platform, Trap is signed to Harry Fraud’s SRFSCHL label, which gives him a reputable backing and support system.
I got the sense that SRFSCHL is more of a family than just another music conglomerate. Trap has known Harry Fraud since he was a kid, describing the legendary New York producer as “the Big Brother for the whole situation.”
And Adrian Lau, also signed to SRFSCHL, is the actual big brother of one of Trap’s childhood friends. This close-knit, New York-based label is the perfect place for a lyricist like Trap Ciudad to progress.
This year is going to be a big one for Trap’s progression. He’s got a debut EP, titled Greatest Hits, on the way. Greatest Hits is a featureless project with production from Adrian Lau, Harry Fraud, and others.
Trap tells me he’s trying to be as ambitious as possible on this new project to avoid being filed into a “type” rapper. He explained his mindset for his EP.
I’m trying to do a lot. I don’t wanna say I’m doing a lot, but I’m doing a lot. I don’t wanna be pigeon-holed and doing this type of song or that type of song. I hope that people know it’s all very, very New York, all very organic. Everything that I’m talking about is some real shit. It’s gonna be dope ‘Gang Shit’ dropping soon, video on the way. Should be dropping the next month.”
With his new focus and determination, and the backing of some of the most crucial tastemakers in New York rap, Trap Ciudad has a truly promising future ahead of him. We’ll be watching.