For the past couple of weeks Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz has been causing traffic jams in the west midtown neighborhood. As a part of the promotions for his latest album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, he painted a home pink, put a hoopty in the front yard, and painted the word TRAP in black capital letters on the front. People from all over Georgia and the southeast have been driving to Atlanta to see this monument of trap music’s integration into pop culture.
For those who are unfamiliar with trap music, it is a subgenre of rap that emerged from drug houses during the era of the crack cocaine epidemic. The music is meant to be motivational– to encourage those who are making, weighing, measuring, and bagging drugs to work faster and harder to earn more money. During the 1980s and 1990s crack cocaine wreaked havoc on communities of color, leading to the incarceration of black men and women. Literally, a generation of children were left without parents and lived in dire poverty because of drug addiction.
So, it’s a bit conflicting to see the glorification of trap music and the dark realities that it narrates. The black community has not recovered from the splintering of the black family perpetuated by crack, and black people have not forgotten the government’s hands-off approach to helping black people. We’re reminded every time we hear about a white person’s life being saved by a Narcan shot after a heroine overdose. Yet, on any given Sunday, there are more people at the trap house than the church house.
That said, the pink trap house is also a genius guerrilla marketing scheme, and it is not the fist that the rapper executed to promote the Pretty Girls Like Trap Music album. 2 Chainz hosted a group workout class where attendees participated in a 45-minute workout while music from the album played. At the end of the class, they passed out pink yoga mats. As of last weekend, a pastor has started having church in the backyard of the trap house and says he wants to find ways to help those people who are still caught up in the trap house. This is a righteous cause, especially since Atlanta has the widest income inequality gap in the country. Less than 5 miles from the extremely gentrified west midtown neighborhood it has never been more visible.
How do we reconcile the popularity of trap music as the beat of the club, the gym, and rush hour traffic, but also as the rhythm of oppressive socioeconomic circumstances? Is it empowerment or exploitation for a rapper to capitalize on the popularity of trap music in order to make money off of the white people who download it? Tell us what you think by tweeting us @unbasicpodcast with the hashtag #pinktraphouse.