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Trap/dubstep: Adrian Sosebee

How an Atlanta music phenomenon reached the world

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Since 2009, Adrian "Zone3" Sosebee's blog, the Freak Beat, has served as the chief conduit blasting post-dubstep and the distinctively Atlanta sounds of trap music to the world at large. From Heroes x Villains' genre-defining "trvpstvr" to Mayhem & Antiserum's "Brick Squad Anthem" to Debroka's "Grippa Bankroll," the Freak Beat has leaked the synth-laden 808 beat rattle and bass swells of every major trap track since long before most people knew it as anything other than a T.I. album title (Trap Muzik). As a blogger, filmmaker, photographer, and Freakstep Records label owner, Sosebee has been trap music's emissary since day one, throwing parties, producing videos, and releasing definitive mixtapes and compilations online. The Freak Beat has become synonymous with trap, which is poised for a global takeover. Sosebee breaks down the music's origins, its principal players, and where it's going from here.

"I grew up in Atlanta, near Boulevard on a street that's now gentrified. In the '80s, there were drug dealers in the streets and crack vials everywhere. For me, trap music epitomizes what the Atlanta hustle is all about. Atlanta is a big drug center, and trap is about being in the cycle of selling drugs, or using drugs to buy more drugs. You're trapped in the lifestyle: selling drugs so you can afford clothing, or just get by.

When I moved back to Atlanta in 2003 after studying film production at NYU, I started working as a production assistant on videos for Jeezy, T.I., and other people who coined the phrase 'trap music.' It was the crunk era: Videos had big budgets, and I made my way up to working on videos with Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz. I was into a combination of that kind of hip-hop and EDM/club music, and gravitated toward trap because it's a distinctively Atlanta sound. I had been posting dubstep, but it's from the U.K. Atlanta is where I grew up, and trap music is our sound.

Now you see people like Heroes x Villains and Mayhem taking the sound they pioneered to Russia and other faraway places — Moscow has a big trap scene now, and there's a lot of potential for the music to go even further. I watched crunk happen. Its downfall was that the artists quickly became watered-down. Lil Jon was good and talented early on, but it just got worse and worse. Ying Yang Twins were the same way. Crunk never had global artists making the music, at least not right away. With trap you already have artists like Stooki Sound in the U.K., and now people in Brazil, and people from all over the world sending me music. It's a global thing, and with the technology that's available now, compared to what people had even five years ago, it's easy to make trap beats.

The difference [between trap and dubstep] basically comes down to what drum kit or patches the producer uses. A lot of dubstep and trap use the same structures: an intro, a build-up, a drop, and a story to the song. It's not like an instrumental hip-hop beat that plays on a loop. Also, dubstep is geared more toward bros and aggression. Trap is sexier and geared toward women. The dubstep that I liked always reminded me of heavy metal: pounding, gritty, sub bass. Trap builds on softer 808 sounds with lots of high-end. Some people think the high-end is cheesy, but I like that. There's a time and a place for cheesy music. You can be in the club and it's real bouncy and fun, and it epitomizes the fantasy that makes people feel like they're a drug dealer. I like things to be out in the open, and the truth is, at most raves, a lot of people are doing drugs. The same goes for any other kind of music. If Scarface were in an Atlanta club now, he'd be listening to trap.

I can only speak from an Atlanta perspective, but [the crowd] depends on the venue. If you go to Terminal West you'll see a lot of college kids and maybe a sprinkle of hip-hop heads. At other spots like Quad you may see full-on ravers mixed with a hood crowd — in a good way, like people who like hip-hop. I like to call it 'the hood rave' scene — I coined the phrase for a T-shirt that's coming out soon. If you go to East Atlanta to the Graveyard, Mayhem throws monthly parties where you'll find every kind of people, mixed with some of the hipster tattoo crowd.

I like hip-hop shows and I like raves, so I like going to an environment where you have the best of both of these worlds. I book DJs that play hip-hop, then I'll book someone like HPNTK who makes his own music with a real EDM trap style, and these worlds do collide. My label, Freakstep, recently released a comp series called Trap Check on LiveMixTapes.com and it got over 200,000 plays, but there were a lot of comments from hip-hop heads calling Freakstep all of these really explicit names. There's a real disdain toward ravers getting in on hip-hop. To the people leaving those comments, this is like white people co-opting trap. What they don't realize is that most of the artists on the comp aren't white and are the same producers who make hip-hop beats. But you're always going to have crazy comments if you're doing something right, so I don't worry about it.

There is a lot of talent in Atlanta's EDM scene, and I keep working hard, putting stuff out and trying to throw quality parties. I believe in attraction rather than promotion. Ironically, most of the hits that I see on Google Analytics for the Freak Beat come from L.A. We've been going hard throwing parties lately — this winter/spring we did a weekly party, we do a monthly party, and we do one-off hip-hop shows.

The Freak Beat is a global force in our cult-like niche. I do photography, video, blogging, I own a label ... I do everything myself, and I've devoted everything that I have to this. I'd rather live the starving artist lifestyle and build upon what I'm doing. My 'Trap Check' party started at Asylum, but it's moved to the Union. Some of our party videos have received 4,000 hits right off the bat, even though there were only 100 people at the party! I do my #Freakacademy parties at the Union every second Thursday. That's a mixture of EDM genres: drum 'n' bass, dubstep, and trap — lots of trap. In the prime-time hours, between midnight and 1:30 a.m., you've gotta play trap in Atlanta, or you're just not doing it right."

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