Trapstep is an interesting one; it actually exemplifies what I meant in the Trap Rap article about the sharper codification of the sound of second wave trap. Trapstep is sometimes called “Trap Music” because it focuses on the musical content and forgoes formal rapping, but the differences do go much deeper. The fairly low-level rules of Trap Rap loosen, the rapping is dropped, and as a consequence the overall song and sound complexity increases to make up the difference. Only to a point though – this is still an aggressive, primal genre at its core. The songs are more likely to vary wildly in tempo mid-song, and it’s common to hear singing, crowd-hyping chants, and exhortations to clap booties and drop it down low.
It’s relative easy to spot where Trap Rap ends and Trapstep begins, you can get halfway through the sorting process just by examining the base tempo. While the genre can reach down to the 60-70bpm of Trap Rap it averages closer to 100bpm and sometimes soars to the 120+bpm range that Future Trap and Future Bass tend to sit in. It’s more serious than Future Bass and doesn’t sound anywhere near the level of dubstep that Future Trap has. Let’s go with…it’s more “subtle” than Future Trap? That works. The samples I’ve chosen this time represent more of the breadth of what Trapstep can cover vs an expression of the purest core concepts.
At the most reductive level Trapstep can represent a good baseline for the mood of your set. It’s the bass music equivalent of Funky House, Uplifting Trance, or BounceTek; it’s the meat and potatoes that handle the heavy lifting. If you’re starting at either high or low energy and want to move around it’s the middle ground that bridges things together. It’s flexible enough that both hip hop fans and dance music fans will recognize it as trap-style music, and if you pay careful attention to the song construction you can transparently peak in and out of a more purist hip hop set with the right surrounding textures.
My favorite aspect is that it tends to have the double heartbeat bass drum that leads hips into a twerk-style rhythm; that’s catnip for a dance floor. There are always at least two breakdown and heavy drop sections so you’ve got a nice window to either fall into and/or out of the track if you want to and enough possible hot cue points to run a circuit of mashups. It’s worth staying on your toes, however – the cleanest mix points are almost always only 15-20 seconds out from the end of a track.