Latin American Women and Trap Music

Introduction

Being an art form, music, in general, and songs, in particular, serve as not only the means of self-expression but also as the tool for representing a range of social issues. The elaborate use of sound techniques, the choice of words, and the expressivity of a singer allow expressing ideas and emotions alike, therefore, helping both an artist and their audience have a uniquely emotional experience. Creating opportunities for expressivity, music exists in a variety of forms, old ones remaining the staple of artistic forms, and new ones emerging on a regular basis.

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Having appeared comparatively recently, trap music as a genre allows exploring a vast range of opportunities for creating unique art pieces, yet it is also closely connected with its predecessor, rap. Consequently, trap music is linked directly to the idea of addressing essential social issues in a similar way that rap does, including the problems associated with poverty, lack of social justice, gender issues, cross-cultural communication, etc. The propensity toward bringing up social issues is a recent tendency observed in the trap music realm produced as a result of combining an analysis of the problems encountered by Latin Americans and the problems faced by women in the identified cultural environment. Trap opens a new discussion that sheds light on some of the issues experienced by Latin American women in modern American society.

Analysis

One might argue that the genre of the trap music cannot promote the idea of a compromise due to its nature, which is rooted in the active use of aggressive beat and the techniques that create a rather gritty melody with numerous ominous elements. Furthermore, it should also be borne in mind that, initially, trap music was strongly associated with the stereotypical image of masculinity (Moreno). Therefore, the representation of women, in general, and Latin American women, in particular, in the specified genre was bound to be filled with typical elements of objectification. As a result, the premises for the trap music to be taken with a grain of salt were created initially. However, the specified genre managed to swerve from the identified tendency and explore the opportunities for giving Latin American women a voice in the modern rap music industry. For instance, Cardi B has recently received immense recognition from all over the world due to her smashing hit Bodak Yellow (Moreno).

It should be noted that there have been certain controversy surrounding the singer’s recent statement concerning the similarity between her and another performer, Selena Gomez: “The ‘Bodak Yellow’ singer’s collaboration with Migos and Nicki Minaj, released in October, includes a verse that references Quintanilla as well as Daddy Yankee’s hit ‘Gasolina’: ‘Let me wrap my weave up, I’m the trap Selena, dame más gasolina.’” (Moreno). Nevertheless, the overall impression of Cardi B’s attempt at making a statement in the trap music domain has warranted statewide acclaim, therefore, showing that Latin American women are making a significant change in the trap music genre. Joining efforts with Messiah, another famous trap music performer, Cardi B managed to land at the top of the recent rap and hip-hop charts, thus, challenging people’s perception of female trap performers and subverting the stereotype of women being viewed solely as objects, which is, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence in contemporary rap music (Oosten et al. 17).

Similarly, the female Latino trapper Snow Tha Product has addressed some of the issues faced by Latin American women, particularly, the pressure of gender roles to which they are supposed to conform. Her recent video Problems handles the identified societal concern in a rather explicit manner, in accordance with the canon of the trap genre (Boom). The artist manages to not only explore the issue extensively but also draw the attention of a wider audience to the subject matter by appealing to the understandable emotions that overwhelm her. For instance, Snow Tha Product points to the fact that the pressure of routine and the gender roles that have been affecting women’s freedom of expressivity is characteristic of all cultures, including her one. As a result, the song becomes appealing to an array of listeners, thus, creating the environment for the further empowerment of women. Therefore, the specified niche in the rap music industry creates additional opportunities for adding expressivity to the discussion of modern social dilemmas.

However, with the evolution of the trap music and the introduction of new social issues into its context, new tendencies have recently started developing. For example, the art of female trap singers and especially the Latin American women singing trap can be viewed as one of the massively popular trends in the trap music domain. For instance, a recent article on the subject matter goes so far as to claim that Latin American women alter the very landscape of the contemporary hip-hop genre by offering their version of the trap music: “Lane and Roja are part of a new generation of Latin American female MCs whose lyrics touch on some of the issues facing the region’s women” (Rigby). Put differently, the initially aggressive and persistent nature of the trap music genre creates opportunities for artists to make powerful statements, the issue of gender inequality being one of them.

Female empowerment, therefore, benefits significantly from the efforts made by female Latin American singers. Latin American women making their name in the domain of the trap music, however, encounter a range of obstacles on their way to promoting the concept of equality to the target audience: “The level of gender violence in freestyle rhyming battles, and in mainstream rap, can be horrific” (Rigby). It is remarkable that the genre that seems to embody the elements that reinforce and perpetuate the concept of male supremacy allows subverting some of the stereotypes that have existed in the realm of rap music for a significant amount of time. Therefore, Latin American women that have chosen the trap music as their domain have been making impressive progress in addressing some of the common gender stereotypes and other social issues. The evolution of topics in a trap, therefore, shows that the focus has been shifted from social issues, in general, the profound analysis of gender issues and their impact on the development of relationships between people in Latin American communities.

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Furthermore, one must admit that the efforts of female Latin American singers attempting at making a change in the trap music realm have led to the recognition of violence as one of the most common problems in contemporary society (Moreno). In their works, female rappers use the trap genre to address the increasingly high rates of violence and the factors that contribute to its development, such as high poverty levels in the Latin American suburbia, the lack of education, the promotion of gender stereotypes and the pressure Latin American women of all ages experience in the present-day world (Roggeband 144). Indeed, a closer look at some of the social problems that the members of the Latin American communities have to address on a regular basis will reveal that violence levels have been rising consistently over the past few years (Roggeband 147).

Although the specified phenomenon can be observed between a wide range of groups, including people of different age, social status, gender, etc., violence and abusive behaviors toward women remain at the top of the list of the current social concerns: “More research is needed to refine and reconceptualize the complex transnational-domestic processes in which norms emerge in multiple interrelated locations” (Roggeband 145). Therefore, indicating that there is urgency in handling the identified issues is paramount to the further promotion of the well-being of Latin American women. The gritty nature of the trap music, in turn, helps add relevance to the subject matter and raise awareness among the general audience, particularly, people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Roggeband 147). Thus, the gravity of the problem is described fully and explored extensively, allowing the audience to get a better grasp of the drastic effects that violence and abuse toward Latin American women produce. The songs written by modern female trap Latin American singers outline the problems associated with violence and abuse, including domestic one, thus, demanding that a radical change be made and that the needs and rights of Latin American women should be recognized.

The propensity toward promoting feminist topics and discussing the relevant issues has been quite noticeable in the rap and hip-hop music realm for quite a while; herein lies the reason for a fast and comparatively efficient introduction of the identified issues into the realm of the trap music genre. According to a study conducted by Gardner, the specified phenomenon can be observed in the modern hip-hop and rap music domains since the said genre “as a transnational cultural art form and practice is not self-limiting in creativity, politics, genres, multimodality, or cultural hybridity” (Gardner 13).

Therefore, rap and hip-hop open a plethora of opportunities for artists to study the nature of social issues and express them in a manner that will immediately attract the attention of the target audience, thus, leading to further discussions. Trap, in turn, incorporating the elements that make it a more poignant artistic genre for expressing emotions, allows sending a message about a particular issue immediately, at the same time spurring further heated discussions and, thus, contributes to the identification of the strategies that can be used to handle the conflict in question. Thus, the fact that female Latin American singers choose the trap genre as the area in which they can explore opportunities for advancing some of the topical feminism-related issues should not be a surprise.

One might argue that writing and singing a song about pressing social issues does not lead to the immediate creation of a successful solution thereof. While the identified statement is, to some extent, true, the emotional weight of trap songs, their expressivity, and the call for action that they incorporate must be recognized. Put differently, trap songs performed by modern Latin American singers, particularly, women, can be interpreted as a powerful impetus for fighting social injustice. A number of trap songs performed by Latin American women revolve around the topics of violence and the lack of justice in the context of contemporary society.

Thus the songs provide a decent foundation for not only raising awareness about the subject matter but also compelling the members of American communities to join forces and address the staggering lack of justice and the conflicts that seem to have been perpetuated in the modern social environment. The songs created by the modern trap singers, thus, lead to the resurgence of social movements aimed at restoring social justice and creating a safer environment for communication between the representatives of different cultures. Furthermore, the focus on conflicts and increasing violence levels in modern Latin American communities allows discussing the issue on a statewide level as opposed to a local one. Consequently, more efficient tools for managing the subject matter can be introduced into the Latin American community.

In addition, the very image of Latin American women seems to have suffered impressive changes in the trap music realm. Evolving from a rather stereotypical idea of a female character being merely eye candy to the representation of a woman as an independent and unique person, the somewhat aggressive and, thus, insistent music has contributed massively to revisiting the current opinions about the role of a woman in the Latin American society. Indeed, the scrutiny of some of the songs that have been released recently will point to the fact that the propensity toward viewing women as an attribute, which has been a rather popular tendency in the rap music for quite a while, seems to have been transformed into the necessity to introduce equality into the relationships between men and women, as recent trap songs show.

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That being said, one must admit that the voices of most female singers in the trap music industry are shrugged off by the contemporary music industry. The reasons for the specified phenomenon to take place are rather basic and quite understandable; with a drastic and rapid change toward the promotion of new ideas to which most audiences are likely to be unprepared, music studios will not generate the required amount of profit. However, the underrepresentation of female artists by modern label companies is beyond irritating since the artists in question have innovative and crucial ideas that they can communicate to the target demographics to improve the current social situation. As a recent article stresses, a recent album by Simbi Ajikawo, which featured groundbreaking ideas and an innovative approach toward handling social and gender issues in rap and trap songs, was received warmly by fans yet rejected by the industry: “The album didn’t even chart within the top 100. There were no Mercury or Brit nominations. Apart from her hardcore fanbase, the record was greeted with little more than a shrug” (Wolfson). One might argue that the lack of interest toward the unique and profound ideas that modern female Latin American trap singers offer implies that people are not ready for a massive and radical change.

In retrospect, the phenomenon of change that the trap music brought into the realm of both music and social relationships is beyond unexpected. Despite being extraordinarily young, the identified genre has already managed to subvert a range of stereotypes including the role of women, in general, and African American women, in particular. The fact that the trap music is taking the world by storm shows that the specified alterations are currently viewed as not only natural but also welcomed and appreciated. By subverting the ideas of masculinity and femininity that have worn out their welcome and are no longer viewed as the standards that are set in stone, female Latin American trap musicians contribute to the advancement of feminist ideas. Therefore, it can be assumed that contemporary trap music can become the device for handling some of the gender-related conflicts. The introduction of equality-based ideas into the realm of the contemporary trap music is bound to affect Latin American women, as well as other members of vulnerable populations, to a considerable extent. By declaring the significance of equality-based communication on a statewide level with the help of trap music as a genre that is getting increasingly wide popularity, Latin American female singers may reinvent the landscape of the modern society.

While the obstacles mentioned above are admittedly impressive and requiring a lot of effort to manage, the current tendency among Latin American female trap singers to focus on essential societal concerns proves that one can make a difference in the modern society. The fact that the problems that used to be overlooked, at best, and silenced, at worst, are nowadays brought up to be discussed freely serves as a graphic proof that the influence of Latin American female singers on the development of the trap music in the context of the present-day feminist movement has been huge. Furthermore, the fact that trap singers have a new unique sound to offer to their fans shows that the contemporary trap music industry has a huge potential as a niche and, therefore, is likely to evolve, embracing an increasingly large number of listeners and, thus, attracting more people’s attention to the problems faced by Latin American women in the present-day environment.

At this point, it is necessary to mention that the trap music genre was lucky enough to be created at the point when technological development was on the rise. With new groundbreaking IT innovations emerging on a regular basis and the sweeping impact that social networks have on the development of social relationships and the enhancement of certain cultural influences, Latin American female trap songs are likely to attract a lot of attention. Consequently, the problems that are addressed or hinted at in the sings produced by Latin American female trap singers are going to become widely analyzed, and the solutions to the identified issues are bound to be produced faster. Thus, the impact of Latin American female singers on the evolution of trap music, as well as its impact on modern American society, cannot possibly be underrated.

Conclusion

Creating opportunities for an artistic interpretation of some of the most controversial and topical social issues, the singers working in the trap music genre place emphasis on the problems faced by women in the context of the Latin American culture. It would be wrong to claim that the current representation of women in rap is deprived of any controversy and does not imply exploitation of their image to help the music industry generate profit. However, one must give some of the Latin American female trap artists credit for attaining significant success in not only their music career but also the promotion of their messages associated with peace-based management of the gender conflict, the idea of gender equality, and the enhancement of compromise and cooperation as the basis for relationships.

Works Cited

Boom. “Watch Snow Tha Product New Video, ‘Problems.’” TuneCollective, 2017, Web.

Gardner, Lauren M. “’We Either Move or Petrify’: Transnational Hip Hop Feminisms Amongst Hip Hop Dancers and Graffiteras – A Critical Literature Review.” GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, & Society), vol. 7, no. 4, 2014, pp. 13-21.

Moreno, Carolina. “Cardi B Responds To Backlash For Calling Herself The ‘Trap Selena’.” Huffington Post. 2017, Web.

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Oosten, Joanna M. F., et al. ”The Influence of Sexual Music Videos on Adolescents’ Misogynistic Beliefs: The Role of Video Content, Gender, and Affective Engagement.” Communication Research, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-23.

Rigby, Claire. “How Latin American Women Are Changing Hip-Hop.” The Guardian. 2015, Web.

Roggeband, Conny. “Ending Violence against Women in Latin America: Feminist Norm Setting in a Multilevel Context.” Politics and Gender, vol. 12, no. 2, 2016, pp. 143-167.

Wolfson, Sam. “Rap and the Gender Gap: Why Are Female MCs Still Not Being Heard?” The Guardian. 2017, Web.

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