How trap is taking over Italian music, and what you probably should know about it
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What do you think of when you think of Italian music? I’d say the shot is between classical Arias (which even Italians don’t listen to) or that song in the background of the Coca-Cola ad restlessly testing our patience on Youtube these past months.
And yes, although Italy is infamously stereotyped as a country where progress is only looked at with an envious pair of binoculars and modern cultural development is a sloth shackled to the sturdy columns of our hard-to-save-hard-to-preserve classical cultural heritage, the emerging musical scene of the past couple of years might be what we’ve got to showcase for youths finding their space in this land of the Latinorum.
Needless to say the internet has saved lives a-plenty across the globe, but for us Italians it really took the rough ones to the front stage; providing rap with a whole new modern tinge, and giving the well-established (but very meticulously fashioned) style a massively more accessible scenario.
Although rap started with the colossuses from a couple of gangs and never really made its way to radio stations, now bars and clubs broadcast a softer more danceable version of it across all our cute little towns. In fact, in the past couple of years, Italian trap music, currently the fastest growing genre in Italian music (together with Indie for the counterparts I guess), is taking the peninsula literally by storm, and taking no prisoners. Either you love it or you hate it, but even people on the news have started talking about it, interviews with the artists from the genre have been crammed in every which corner, teenagers go round with their boomboxes blasting solely that, and kids take on the sayings and movements and include them in their everyday life.
The development of trap music roughly goes something like this: the real youths the real rejects the real rebels the ones that had very little on their side, seem to have usurped the throne held by established rappers whom dictated the scene with very rigid parameters. Of course some critics are firing top-gun in the attempt to diminish this emerging style when looking at it next to the highly-curated Italian rap of the 2000s. Nonetheless it could be safe to say that Rap and Trap can perfectly co-exist if haters let go of comparisons and accepted the fact that both genres live in the same pool but whilst rap idolizes technique, rigor and genius rhymes, Trap somewhat idolizes the opposite (flexibility mainly) and leverages almost wholly on stellar production
Thanks to a handful of incredibly talented producers, namely Charlie Charles at the top of the list - with Sick Luke and Chris Nolan following meticulously - a couple of attempted rap rhymes have turned into national hits moving masses of teenagers to loopy, dopey, enveloping tunes spreading Trap like… a swarm of drunken wasps with a meiotic reproductive system.
That said we’re here to give you a break-down of some of the most influential Italian trappers wading through the scene right now, giving you a taste of what could hopefully maybe one day distantly make it to the UK too (at least the producers have the talent to make it international).
Said to be the one who birthed trap in the Italian rap scene, Sfera Ebbasta (literally translated to Sphere That’sall) aka Jonathan Grove (1992, Cinisello Balsamo) started his career on Youtube roughly around 2011. He wasn’t fully noticed until he produced his first studio album XDVR, together with said friend Charlie Charles, bringing some real trap tunes to the greater spotlight with tracks such as Panette (now regarded the first real Italian trap song). With his strange style and peculiar street vibe it didn’t take long for him to get into the right circles and make his way into the label Roccia Music, known for already well-established rappers such as Marracash, with which he relaunches the XDVR album with additional tracks such as Ciny, another exponential tune for the trap ones. It’s 2016 and his latest eponymous album, Sfera Ebbasta is produced and launched by Universal, selling more than 50,000 copies and getting him on the stages of all sorts of national music awards.
After his summer hit Happy Days, he's probably the most heard of trapper in the mainstream music scene, is Ghali aka Ghali Amdouni (1993, Milan but of Tunisian heritage). He made his way into the scene by founding the rap gang Troupe D’Elite in 2011, sadly atrociously criticized and defined as the moment in which Italian rap hit rock bottom.
He then re-emerged from the ashes with a couple of independent videos on Youtube in collaboration with, again, producers such as Charlie Charles and Chris Nolan, and started getting some slack for his style and vibe, although his bars were – and still are – far from produce of the elite. His fan base on the web has grown rapidly and his debut single with Sto Records in 2016, Ninna Nanna, established a new record with the greatest number of Spotify plays in the first day of publication. May 2017 saw the publication of his first album, Album, it too selling over 50,000 copies.
DARK POLO GANG
By spitting the most ridiculous bars heard in the past decades, this Roman born and bred gang has clogged the internet with the most embarrassing (hence viral) of quotes, sticking to trap the scene and molding it till growing into it till the top. Born in 2014 and composed of trappers Tony Effe, Wayne Santana, Dark Side e Dark Pyrex, it seems that their secret to success literally has been saying the most stupid of things solely over exquisite productions by their roman producer Sick Luke.
In fact, their made-up slang, passion for fashion and ridiculous little dance moves have touched the hearts of all the young ones that want nothing but a bit of a laugh. They basically never all sing together and seem to enjoy playing around between themselves, producing albums in pairs, mixing it up. Their first full production was in 2015 with Full Metal Dark, after three more albums in 2016, this year saw the publication of their most acclaimed album yet, TWINS, with tracks such as Cono Gelato and Sportswear getting high recognition.
Their peculiarly controversial amongst the Italian music scene, in fact it may still be unclear whether they forged their success out of the people that actually appreciate them or their haters.
Tedua, aka Mario Molinari (Genova, 1994) broke into the trap scene whilst repeatedly moving between Cogoleto (Liguria) and Calvairate (Milano) in-between ditching school and then going back to it, living with his mother and are families and then living with his friends. He starts a crew known as the Wild Bandana Crew, he releases his first EP Medaglia D’oro in 2014 and then is further noticed with his featuring with Sfera Ebbasta in Mercedes Nero.
2015 sees his mixtape Aspettando Orange County (translates to Waiting for Orange County) and in 2016 we finally hear his mixtape Orange County, containing hits such as Buste Della Spesa and Lingerie, remastered in 2017 as his first official album and called Orange County California. Amongst his inspirations are American rappers such as Chief Keef, indeed Tedua brings an air of freshness to the trap scene, trapping offbeat in what might as well be drill music, the trap subgenre emerged in Chicago with Keef’s label.
Learning it the hard way growing up, Izi aka Diego Germini (Savigliano, 1995), started rapping after running away from home then suffering from a coma induced by diabetes. Izi, his name in art, is actually an assonance for the English word easy.
After starring as Zeta in an eponymous 2016 movie about a rapper finding his way to fame, he joined the Wild Bandana Crew with Tedua and produced his first studio album Fenice, with the best known tracks Scusa and Chic. Soon after came his second album, Pizzicato, with featurings including some of the gods of Italian rap like Fabri Fibra.
Although this selection attempts to represents the most seminal trappers from the scene, such is only a minimal percentage of the upcoming rampage of lads taking over the rap scene and turning it upside down. Achille Lauro, Lazza, Vegas Jones, Laioung and several others would probably also deserve a mention.
Plus, this is a round-up also omitting everybody playing on the outskirts of the trap genre – if it is ever healthy to define musical sub genres so rigidly; such as the urgently talented rapper Rkomi, or the duo doing neither rap nor trap nor a genre anybody has really pinned down yet such as the smooth and romantic Carl Brave and Franco126. But that’s a whole other story.