The growing popularity of Latin trap music in the U.S.

Andre Spruell, Opinion Editor

The genre of rap/hip-hop music is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres in the United States. What if the genre was even bigger, but in a different language?

It is not hard to imagine because this is the case with the growing popularity of Latin trap music. Before diving into some of the artists and why it is so popular today, for those unfamiliar with the genre, there were other genres that helped pave the way for Latin trap music.

According to the Miami New Times, Latin, or Spanish-language,” trap is influenced by black culture, specifically Southern hip-hop. (The term “trap” comes from slang for places where drug deals take place.) It began with Latin trappers taking known beats and dropping their rhymes on top.

Based on that definition of the genre alone, it is easy to recognize why it draws parallels to rap/hip-hop music since it draws its influence from.

Elements used in each song include lurching bass lines, jittering 808s and the eyes-half-closed vibe, according to The Fader. This formula has allowed artists in this genre to produce hit after hit.

If it derives directly from hip-hop itself, how is it bigger than rap/hip-hop in the U.S.? Simply put, the answer is given through the number of streams these songs have, as well as the hundreds of millions views each song generates.

Being a fluent Spanish speaker, I understand what the songs mean and thoroughly enjoy it more than American rap/hip-hop. Although I do enjoy American rap/hip-hop, many people that follow the genre can attest to the fact that the genre just simply is not what it used to be.

Nowadays, rap/hip-hop has turned into having a killer beat and a catchy chorus, which puts less emphasis on having the ability to be lyrically good. It has lessened so much so that most rappers today cannot even be understood, which led to the creation of the term “mumble rap.”

The lack of quality within the genre has paved the way for something like Latin trap to become what it is today.

Aside from American influences like Southern hip-hop, Spanish trap also draws influences from dembow, a Dominican style of hip-hop, and reggaeton, a puerto rican genre that began in the late 90s and dominated American airwaves for Spanish music listeners in the early to mid 2000s. Reggaeton was arguably the most popular hispanic genre of music before Spanish trap music came into play in my opinion. 

Due to the genre also gaining influences from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, many of the artists in the genre hail from these two countries.

The genre of Latin trap is inescapable for those that listen to Latin music because it is all over social platforms like Spanish radio stations, Spotify and Youtube just to name a few.

In my opinion, the biggest artist in this genre is the 24-year-old puerto rican artist known as Bad Bunny. There are many reasons as to why he is the most popular artist in the genre.

His style in the way his songs are done is unique because although it is a Latin genre, he often makes American pop culture references in his songs. Making these references creates cross culturalism, which is why I believe so many people are drawn to him.

Another reason why he is so enamored by people, even those that do not listen to his music, is because of his fashion sense. Bad Bunny is a fashion icon in the eyes of many people familiar with the artist because he is not afraid to wear bright colors and is not afraid to “push the envelope” when it comes to fashion.

Also, streetwear is a style of fashion that has become extremely popular among young adults and is now seen as high fashion. When people tend to think of influential people in the streetwear style of fashion, Bad Bunny is a name that frequently pops up.

If you think it is just my personal opinion that he is the biggest and best artist in the genre, Rolling Stone recently came out with a whole article about the artist entitled, Bad Bunny: The Four-Billion-Stream Man Leading the Latin Trap Explosion. If Rolling Stone, one of the most famous if not the most famous magazine company in the country backing up my argument is not enough, I do not know what is.

The influence Bad Bunny has on the genre can be compared to the influence Drake has on the hip-hop genre.

There are other artists that need to be credited for helping propel Latin trap music. Some of the artists include Ozuna, who is known more for his vocals as opposed to his rhymes, and other Latin rappers like Arcangel, Farruko, De La Ghetto, Noriel and Bryant Myers to name a few. Other artists that contribute to the genre that are not exclusively Latin trap artists are J. Balvin, Nicky Jam, Daddy Yankee, and many others.

For me, the biggest reason why the genre is so popular is the fact that all of these artists often collaborate with each other to remix one of their fellow artists biggest songs.

The group formally known as Mambo Kingz and DJ Luian can be credited with propelling the genre and they are the brains behind producing Bad Bunny and who allows all these artists to do songs together, creating a brotherhood between everyone involved in Latin trap. 

Based on everything, I believe that the genre will continue to grow and is something that will stick around for a long time. With that being said, the next step for the genre will be to see if it can stand the test of time.