6 Indian Trap Artists We’re Listening to Right Now
Some them of stay true to trap tradition while others add in a touch of their own culture
Propelled into viral fame by Internet memes like DJ Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” and the infamous ‘Mannequin Challenge’ (featuring American duo Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles”), trap’s global takeover was inevitable. In addition to becoming a heavy mainstream presence amongst current hip-hop artists like the Migos, Cardi B, Desiigner and Gucci Mane, trap serves as a key element in several hip-hop musicians’ work around the globe.
Originally created in the late Nineties in the Southern U.S. by black communities to outline the hardships of poverty in urban cities, trap is typically characterized by dark synth, rolling snare drums, heavy 808 kick drums and cynical lyrical content. With branches of the genre crossing into EDM, classical music and pop, there are limitless paths for artists to explore today; some stay true to tradition while others add in a touch of their own culture to build new narratives. Either way, trap is no longer an underground hip-hop secret, nor is it limited solely to the West.
While Indonesia, China, South Korea and Japan are emerging as strong contenders, India definitely isn’t far behind. Here are six Indian trap artists on the rise.
After a well-earned rise to popularity last year with the effervescent, slow trap single “Twisted Turns,” Pune-based, Siliguri-bred rapper Subham Ghosh aka Xenon Phoenix has been a force to reckon with amongst Indian trap artists. The formula of his tracks often echo the rhythmic snares of mainstream hip-hop and have become the key to pushing the trap movement further into the country.
Born in India but brought up in Detroit, Akhil Sesh journeyed from photographer to musician with his own brand of eerie, slow, rolling trap. His 2017 debut single “Extravagance” made a splash courtesy the contrast between his high-pitched vocals and deep bass drops. His second single “Therapy” hit harder with intricate vocal harmonies and chill-trap vibe while “Black Jesus” off his just-released debut album Free My Shooter brings in a haunting desi touch with the infusion of what sounds like Carnatic violin.
Mumbai-based DJ Nea Gureja aka Paper Queen’s production is a glorious blend of old-school hip-hop, grunge and trap. Tracks blend seamlessly into each other on her Soundcloud mixes and there’s an uncontrollable urge to bob your head along to anything she spins. Her most recent upload Pucker Up samples verses from hip-hop legends Ol’ Dirty Bastard, D.I.T.C and more which she then completely reinvents with thrumming trap, synth and drum and bass elements.
Check out Pucker Up here.
Hard-hitting, dynamic and sharp as a tack, Bunny Chakraborty aka Young God digs into the roots of trap culture, addressing personal struggle in his lyricism while keeping his beats vicious. Part of Imphal-based hip-hop collective The Poetic Revolution, Young God often uses Hindi and English in his tracks. “Gunhegar,” the lead single off his 2018 debut EP Mastermind, is pretty much on-par with international hip-hop acts like American trio Migos, South Korean rapper Bang Yongguk and China’s Higher Brothers thanks to its Orient-meets-trap instrumentation.
This 19 year-old member of electronica collective Jwala pulls audiences into trap-EDM territory with his high-energy mixes. Kanchan’s love for Japanese pop culture and music bleeds into his artistry, creating a style distinct from anyone else in India’s trap scene. Kanchan blends dynamic, dubstep trap with Japanese traditional instrumentals to create rolling, cinematic soundscapes.
Manipuri hip-hop artist Jay Sang’s age tends to belie his ferocity. Although just 17 years old, Sang’s crisp and confident verse delivery makes him one of the most talented Indian trap rappers on the rise. While he doesn’t quite have the lyrical maturity of his frequent collaborators Young God and Smogy yet, his strong foundation of rhythm and rhyme on his 2018 single “I’m Back” promises greatness.