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MANIKAN: What is Trap? Mix


Posted by LFTF

He hails from the South, the land of gangster rap and trill beats. But he's got some heavy opinions on the word "trap."

​MANIKAN makes tunes distinctly reflective of his locale, the Dirty South, ATL. And while you could throw around the word trap when describing his music to your Soundcloud addicted, blogger pals, he’s got some opinions on that opinion - levelheaded ones, strong and seeped in a history of southern rap and hardcore bands. Read on to learn the tales of MANIKAN.

Let’s start from the beginning. When did you start making dance music and what inspired you to do so?

I started producing when I moved to Atlanta 4 years ago. Mainly just DJing the past couple of years. In Arizona, I was going to school out there. And when I moved to Atlanta I got exposed to a little bit more ‘cause Tucson is very small compared to Atlanta and Atlanta is a crazy club scene. Just everything from house to hip-hop to dubstep to whatever, I was just immersed in a lot more than I was used to. That kind of kicked me off in the direction that I really wanted to start making people dance.

Your sound is, obviously, rap-heavy. Some might even throw around the word trap, not sure how you feel about that.

Yeah, it annoys the shit out of me. I don’t know. The whole fad kind of just makes me laugh just because it’s been around for so long and it’s, for some reason, blowing up out of nowhere, more than usual. And I think the term is abused more than anything.  Stuff that just doesn’t sound like what I would think of as trap music, that just has synths and bullshit. 

To me, trap music is things that have kind of an old-school hip hop feel but at the same time it’s always dark and grimey. And it should feel like you’re in a shitty spot. I’m not going to be lame and say, “like in the trap,” or something. It should be something like, if you’re in a neighborhood where you feel not so safe in and it’s kind of theme music for that place. It kind of goes with that because that’s what the whole vibe is kind of inspired off of. 

That’s interesting that you boiled trap down to a place. I think about place and its effect on music a lot, including the places and settings where people make it.

I always make music in the dark. Either in the dark or with candles. Just because it helps me focus or create this weird vibe. It’s either that or early morning.

Yeah, dance music is typically experienced in a loud, dark place. It’s like the dark is where it’s meant to be heard.

You’re totally in the vein of what I was thinking. Unless it’s like early morning or something and you have some house music playing like you’ve been up all night. But making club music during the day is kind of funny ‘cause it’s nonsensical.

I talked to Jacques Greene about this very thing. He said that he doesn’t  even listen to dance music, he just makes it. 

I totally get where he’s coming from ‘cause you’re spending a lot of time doing the same things. It’s just nice to have a breath of fresh air. And also something that’s not making you think of that same exact format you hear all the time. It kind of gets monotonous at times so listening to something off-the-wall, something that still makes you want to dance, is a little bit more inspiring. 

So what is that for you? What’s the off-the-wall stuff that’s inspiring?

Obviously I listen to a shitload of rap but I also listen to anything my friends are sending me. I love The Dream. I listen to him nonstop. Or a lot of 90’s hip-hop.

There are a lot of vibes out there that I just don’t think are played enough in our time now like Dr. Dre G Funk stuff. There are always essences of it everywhere but I always feel like it’s such a great unifier. It makes everybody, ya know, white, black, anybody want to party or have fun.  

Yeah, hip-hop was kind of my entrance into dance music actually. I definitely listened to a lot of 90’s hip-hop back in the day. 

I did too. I mean snowboarding or skateboarding, there’s a lot of hip-hop in that culture, everything from A Tribe Called Quest to Hieroglyphics or something like that. I mean, I listened to them non-stop growing up and then kind of got into trance and drum ‘n’ bass a little bit and jungle when I was in 7th and 8th grade. 

I never went to raves but I was really into the music. I was just trying to listen to stuff that wasn’t what everybody else was listening to. When I first started DJing it was mostly because everybody we would hear out at clubs just annoyed me, it was just awful music. And I wanted to always play something else but at the same time people would always be like, “Oh, you’ve got a bunch of music and we like what you’re always listening to. You should, ya know, go do that.” 

During high school and stuff, all I listened to was a lot of post-hardcore, just crazy-weird shit, bands like Small Brown Bike and Cursive. That’s really what I was into in middle school and high school. But being in college, you start going out and it’s a lot different. That’s where I feel I really got into dance music. I was into it but I felt like it could’ve been better so that’s when I started making friends with DJs and producers in Pheonix and Arizona. And then eventually here in Atlanta.

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