Artist Spotlights

This Is Who Started ‘Trap Soul’…and It’s NOT Bryson Tiller


Today, websites like SoundCloud, DatPiff and BeatPort have become synonymous with instrumentals, hip-hop, undiscovered artists and producers. Some of today’s biggest names in the producers circle such as Sango and Ta-Ku, frequent the website. Posting new remixes, songs, and popular re-works to the website. These producers and many more like them are responsible from popularizing a sound that’s become attached with artists like Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, Sango and others.


Unbeknownst to many, producers by the name of Nujabes and J.Dilla helped to spearhead this new wave that’s almost a perfect fusion of hip-hop and electronic music. Unfortunately both J.Dilla and Nujabes passed away in 2006 and 2010 respectively but their fingerprints on today’s music still remain. World-Famous music broadcasting platform Boiler Room based out of London helped bring his sound to the international level. Taking the calm, cool, collective vibe those producers are known for and catapulting their sonic aesthetic to the masses.

Nujabes and J.Dilla were known for their blend of jazz, soul, hip-hop and rap to craft a sound that can only evoke memories of a summer’s evening. Where the temperature just seems to be perfect, and the sky at sunset is painted in oranges, reds and pinks, hanging out on stoops until the late evenings and just overall good vibes. Many have come to recognize and label the sounds as “chill-hop”. Using instruments like electric guitars, electric basses and synthesizers, artists like Nujabes, J.Dilla and Flying Lotus carved a musical nostalgia niche, bringing to mind a time when music seemed more organic, all while still sounding fresh, new and original.


This sound remained very much “underground” and only moved into the spotlight with the explosive success of Bryson Tiller. His blend of hip-hop, R&B and rap draws inspiration and stylistic influence from “chill-hop”. In fact, “The Sequence from Tiller’s Trapsoul album is produced by Sango, and upon first listen, can remind one of the nostalgia aesthetic with hip-hop snares found throughout Nujabes’s and J.Dilla’s discography. These producers took hip-hop, a genre that’s rooted in inner-city self expression that’s spanned to every corner of the globe, and fused it with the generations’ prior artistic taste for jazz to bring forward a new wave of music that’s paving the way for the next generation of artist following front runners like Drake and Bryson Tiller.


The explosion of new “underground” music to the mainstream scale is a cycle that will continue forever. The small rebellious minority that represents the anti-establishment has always dictated what’s popular and successful to the masses. After all, it wasn’t too long that radio stations were refusing to play rap because simply talking on a record was unheard of. Nujabes and J.Dilla are just a couple examples of names you’ve never heard of, that are even in their passing are still molding the sound that you can’t get enough of today.

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