The State of Rage Music

Ben Lance, Reporter

     Trap is one of the biggest genres of music in American culture today. Stemming from the larger genres of rap and hip-hop, trap contains simple lyrical content accompanied by hard-hitting bass, short hi-hats, and layers of synthesizers. Since its rise to popularity in the 2000s with artists such as Gucci Mane, T.I., and Lil Wayne, trap continues to develop into a vastly diverse genre in its own right. 

   One of these subgenres that have risen to prominence in the last few years is known as rage. Rage music is characterized by dense and repetitive synth work over conventional trap drums. Some of the most popular artists contributing to this genre are Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, and Future. 

   This article will focus on the genre’s progression since the 2010s, although it is important to note that trap originated in Atlanta, GA. in the early 90s.

   On Jan. 1, 2012, at the age of 16, Chicago rapper Chief Keef released his debut album Finally Rich. With hit songs such as “Love Sosa”, “I Don’t Like”, and “Laughin’ To The Bank”, this release would solidify the sound of rap for the next decade. Many established rappers praised Chief Keef for this innovative sound, with Kanye West doing a remix of “I Don’t Like.” 

   Along with Keef, other trap artists helped evolve the sound through the decade. Travis Scott released his debut album Rodeo in Sep. 2015. This album contained a variety of sounds from the psychedelic “90210” to the brash “P*** on Your Grave.” 

   This album and Scott’s entire persona as a whole is key to the birth of rage. With hype beats and lyrics celebrating his lifestyle, it is easy to see why people gravitate to it. Some time passed between this release and the first notable rage tracks, but during this period artists took the time to develop the sound of the new wave of rap. 

   On Nov. 22, 2019, Trippie Redd released A Love Letter To You 4, featuring the mischievous banger “The Grinch.” The song has a menacing beat from producer Pi’erre Bourne that makes the listener want to steal Christmas. This was the first rage track heard by many and it quickly captivated listeners, creating anticipation for what else will come from this new sound. 

   Ivy league students received an anthem from up-and-coming rapper Ken Carson with “Yale.” Included on his Teen X EP self-released in Aug. 2020, the song leans more in the sci-fi and futuristic direction than “The Grinch.” 

   The most innovative rage album yet was released on Christmas Day in 2020. As a gift from Playboi Carti to his die-hard fans, the 24-track Whole Lotta Red featured the most extreme production yet from F1LTHY, with metal-inspired guitar riffs and speaker-shattering bass. Carti was not carried by the production, however, as he abandoned his “baby voice” for psyched-out vocal inflections and unhinged screaming for ad-libs. 

   Whole Lotta Red transported rage to a whole new level with many, many artists attempting to formulate Carti’s sound. Since then, there have not been any landmark progressions to the rage genre, although every new song contributes to its evolution. 

   Other artists that are essential to the conversation of the rise of rage include Rico Nasty, XXXTentacion, City Morgue, and Ski Mask the Slump God. There are plenty of others, but the ones named in this article are considered the “face” of the genre.