Pop music is sweet. We all vibe to it — whether guiltlessly or ashamed — and often find ourselves engrossed in its catchy hooks and lyrics. The genre has been bent all different kinds of directions and includes artists from around the world. Though musically diverse, pop songs all share a common theme, one of sweetness and innocence. But the most widely-listened-to music of today is something of a different animal. Look at the charts: trap is the new pop.
With tens of millions of listeners worldwide, southern-style hip hop — “crunk,” “trap,” whatever you want to call it — is now standard fare. If you don’t believe me, walk into any college party in the country and you’ll be sure to hear Future blowing out the speakers. Trap is characterized by hilarious lyrics (“stroke my cactus!”) and banger beats (lots of drops), which make the listening experience feel like a nonstop turnup. It’s kind of a lifestyle brand too, one that turns heads; the artists behind this music make waves in the media for buying outrageously expensive clothing and living lavishly.
Regardless of how you feel about trap, it’s definitely worth a try. There’s so much beyond the music that’s associated with the genre, from fashion shows to art, that there has to be something in it for you. Here are my thoughts on the most influential trappers currently in the game and why they’re worth your time:
 TRAVIS SCOTT
Where do I even begin? Travis Scott, known as La Flame, truly lives up to that monicker. He’s got brains, dropping out of UT Austin to pursue music, balls, moving to L.A. to immerse himself in a cultural mecca, and drive, putting out music since 16 and working his way up through the industry via audio engineers. The man is the complete package, and inked 3 different record deals before he turned 21. Scott attracted the attention of Kanye West, who helped La Flame rise to fame, and has produced and collaborated with him countless times. He’s even enchanted the fashion world, modeling for YSL and Nike as well as designing his own clothing.
Scott’s music is perfect for whatever you want it to be. I’ve bumped his stuff while driving, studying, and getting ready for lacrosse games, and everything has fallen into place seamlessly. I would recommend starting with his Days Before Rodeo mixtape, which features fellow trappers Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, and Metro Boomin’. You should also check out Astroworld if it hasn’t already been played for you a million times.
 YOUNG THUG
Young Thug is practically a household name after his 3 Slime Season mixtapes and an armload of features. I’m almost surprised that my dad hasn’t started playing him in the car.
Thugga holds a special place in my heart as a high prince of fashion. He always looks like a million bucks because oftentimes that’s what he’s wearing, sporting Margiela, YSL, Gucci, Calvin Klein, and dozens of other famous brands. His music videos are equally extravagant, as he traps out in women’s attire just because that’s how much he loves clothing. Side note: A friend of mine went to a Thugga concert and told me that he saw the guy change outfits literally three times during the two-hour set.
You should definitely take a peek at Young Thug, not so much for his music (though 1017 Thug slaps), but more so for his impeccable taste in designer styles. Also you’ve got to respect the fact that a guy with a name like Jeffrey can find success in the music industry.
Migos, composed of Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff, are all family members from Atlanta with a will to make money. Their new album Culture details the struggles of selling drugs, maintaining relationships, and staying out of trouble with the law, which is a far cry in terms of maturity from their previous songs like “Pipe it Up” and “Dab on Em.”
While Migos isn’t quite my cup of tea, I highly recommend them. Their storytelling abilities are off the charts, and their beats slap HARD. It’s the perfect music for going ape with a group of friends while doing 90 on the freeway, but you can also enjoy it in more low key settings. Aside from musical quality, Migos’ drive is impressive. They are true hustlers in an era of laziness and we can all learn a lot from their hard work. You don’t have to be a dealer to respect their commitment to always having, in their words, “a pocket full of cottage.”
Your 13-year-old sister’s favorite rapper. From his iconic Cheeto-style red dreadlocks to his admitted disdain for classic rap music, Yachty is not hard to miss. He cut his teeth with the singles “One Night” and “Minnesota” back in 2015, which he made using FruityLoops on a laptop. At only 19 he is a big hit among the youth due equally to his chillness and his goofiness, which have allowed him to stay humble after achieving major fame.
What makes Yachty special is his lyric writing and casual persona. While you might be turned off by the quality of his voice or even his beats, he is enormously talented when it comes to bringing a smile to your face. A couple of my favorite snippets from him are “she blows that dick like a cello,” and “I don’t know who I am sometimes.” He’s frank, he’s silly, and he most certainly does not give a fuck. This ability to be down-to-earth is something a lot of people are missing and to that effect Lil Boat is a savior.
 GUCCI MANE
If Yachty is the voice of the new generation, Gucci would best be characterized as the opposite. Of everyone on this list, he best embodies the trap lifestyle, from his A1 fashion (Moschino, Alexander McQueen, Dior and, naturally, Gucci) to his absurdly sick car collection (he whips a Lambo, a Ferrari, a Bentley, and a souped-up Charger). He is almost singlehandedly responsible for catapulting trap into the spotlight; his label 1017 Brick Squad is a powerhouse of southern hip hop that has been churning out hits and top artists for the last decade. Honestly, whether you like it or not, he has had some kind of influence on your life already.
Gucci’s track record as a human being is horrendous, but I’m a sucker for second chances. After his latest stint in prison he’s sobered up, lost 75 pounds, gotten engaged to his girlfriend and says that he is on track to get his life “together.” All of that hasn’t prevented him from staying active as a producer and lyricist, as he has shown with multiple recent singles and features.
That kind of turnaround while remaining the undisputed king of trap is no small feat.