The tectonic plates of the music industry are shifting. As they reposition, Afrobeat and the Latin American sounds, especially Reggaeton, rise to the surface, catching the attention of major record labels. But what does this shift mean for Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae and dancehall, and more recently, Traphall music?
Traphall, a fusion of Jamaican dancehall and American trap music, has become a favorite among Jamaica’s younger generation. However, it seems its success, both commercially and in terms of international appeal, is constrained to the island’s shores. The genre often showcases beats that are more reminiscent of hip-hop than dancehall. The content, frequently revolving around ‘scamming,’ has been criticized for its lack of relatability to global audiences.
While Traphall grapples with its identity, other genres like Afrobeat and Reggaeton have taken flight. Both genres, though distinct, bear a heavy influence from the dancehall sound. Colombian singer Karol G, for instance, scored a No. 1 spot with her latest album, Mañana Será Bonito. Afrobeat stars like Burna Boy, Tems, and Davido continue to enjoy international recognition.
Such success stories should push Traphall artists to introspect. Ebro Darden, renowned radio host and DJ, relayed a compelling narrative on the state of the music industry: major labels are deprioritizing signing rappers. Instead, their gaze has turned to African and Latin music, which they view as fresh and invigorating.
Bounty Killer, a dancehall luminary, weighed in on the Afrobeat and Dancehall debate, claiming the two genres are like family. He praised the global rise of Afrobeat, highlighting its infectious melodies and topical content. To him, Afrobeat’s simplicity and relatability are its strengths. He further criticized dancehall, and by extension, Traphall, for lacking universal themes. “Dancehall artists don’t have any topics,” he laments. Artists, he feels, are producing music that is too complex and technical, singing in metaphors, and not considering the global audience.
Now, there’s a crucial lesson here for Traphall artists. As Afrobeat and Reggaeton rise, borrowing elements from dancehall while adding their unique flavour, it’s imperative that Traphall artists evolve. If the world craves the authentic dancehall sound and its offshoots, then Traphall might have to recalibrate its direction.
Traphall’s potential isn’t in question. But its artists need to expand their thematic range and produce music that resonates not just in Jamaica but across the globe. It’s time for them to take cues from the authentic dancehall, creating a sound that’s not just a mimicry of hip-hop but a true reflection of Jamaican culture with broad appeal.
In an age where the world is more connected than ever, music’s power to bridge cultures remains unrivalled. Jamaica, with its rich musical legacy, should not miss out on this global conversation. The call for Traphall artists is clear: adapt, innovate, and above all, stay true to the roots while resonating with the world.