T.I. wears a green jacket with yellow tassels and holds a microphone on stage; Gucci Mane wears a yellow fur coat and raps on stage at the 2018 BET award; 21 savage wears a white zip-up jacket and holds a microphone in his hand.
Source: Wire Image via Getty Images/Getty Images

Trap Music’s Founding Fathers: The Past, Present, and Future of the Southern Rap Subgenre

Trap music dominated the hip-hop scene in the early 2000s and now the subgenre is mainstream. But do you know who created trap music?


Dec. 18 2023, Updated 5:13 p.m. ET

The origins of trap music are conflicted. Many believe that the brash, sporadic sound was birthed in the early 2000s as some of the earliest trap songs date back to 2003 when rapper T.I. and other Atlanta-area MCs started producing songs with their signature sound.

A handful of producers and artists used drum machines and synthesizers to craft a sound that would later become synonymous with the term "trap."

The word is derived from the term “trap house,” which refers to a location where drug dealers store and distribute their products.

Today, trap music is one of the leading sub-genres in hip-hop, with artists like Lil Baby and 21 Savage leading the charge. But who is the creator of the subgenre?

Here's a breakdown.

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Who created trap music? Details on the subgenre's origin!

Producer DJ Toomp is often credited with starting trap music. With his gritty, bass-heavy productions, Toomp laid the groundwork for trap music by fusing elements of Southern hip-hop with distinctive sonic patterns.

dj toomp
Source: Getty Images

: Dj Toomp attends Kings Dinner Hosted By Tip "T.I."

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Around the same time, Shawty Redd was making waves in the hip-hop community. His signature use of ominous melodies and thunderous 808s became hallmarks of the genre.

Who were the pioneers of trap music?

It is impossible to talk about trap music without mentioning T.I.

In 2003, the Atlanta-born rapper released his sophomore album, “Trap Muzik,” which was co-produced by trap legend DJ Toomp. The album was a huge success.

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It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold more than one million units, per the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Years later, T.I. opened up about the success of the project and reflected on the state of trap music today.

ti on stage
Source: Getty Images

T.I. perform onstage during A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop.

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“I anticipated the success, but I can't say the same for its impact,” T.I. told Complex, adding, “I didn't expect the mainstream would catch on and for other people in so many different parts of the world to find value and similarly share their stories. It grew into more than just my contribution, though.”

He went on to acknowledge that rappers like Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Future, and Young Thug were also co-pioneers of trap music.

The new wave of trap music, explored.

Since reaching mainstream popularity, trap music has evolved. As the genre continues to grow, a new wave of artists has emerged, and they are pushing the boundaries of trap music.

Rapper Lil Baby's sophomore album, My Turn, was released in 2020 and featured a slate of trap-inspired tracks. 21 Savage has also created a lane for himself in the trap music sub-genre.

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Source: Getty Images

21 Savage performs his first ever London headline show at The O2 Arena.

The English-born rapper, who was raised in Atlanta, has released two studio albums — in addition to collaborating with Drake and Metro Boomin for joint projects — as of this writing.

Similarly, 2 Chainz has carved out a lane for himself as one of the biggest names in trap music.

However, in 2021, the “I’m Different” rapper announced that he would be retiring from trap music. “This gone be my last trap album,” 2 Chainz tweeted. “Enjoy.”

That said, trap music fans shouldn't worry. We have no reason to believe that the subgenre is simmering out in the foreseeable future!

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