Trap artists have dominated the charts for over a decade. The genre’s influence on the world’s music industry is showing no sign of stopping.
With its origins in the hip-hop culture of the South of the USA, trap music has a strong base in Atlanta, Georgia. Musically, trap is characterised by dark and relatively minimal production, with heavy use of complex hi-hat rhythms. Trap lyrics tend to focus on drugs and violence.
Trap has become one of the most-popular forms of hip-hop and rap in recent years, with some trap artists amongst the best-known rappers in the world today. Read on to discover the most influential and best trap artists in the world, from early influencers to current artists.
Travis Scott is one of the best-known and most influential trap artists of our time. His distinctive sound has set the bar for many artists within trap, and within hip-hop more broadly.
Part of Travis Scott’s signature sound is blending rap with melodic vocals, with heavy use of auto-tune. Combined with stark, dark, minimal trap beats his sound has proven ground-shakingly popular worldwide.
His 2018 album ASTROWORLD is the definitive Travis Scott record if you want to get a feel for his music, with essential tracks including ‘SICKO MODE’ and ‘COFFEE BEAN.’
At the date of writing, Travis Scott is in the top 50 most-streamed artists on Spotify.
Young Thug is one of the most famous trap artists on the scene today. Known for defying gender and sexuality stereotypes, Young Thug has become a stand-out figure in the world of trap and hip-hop.
The growth of Young Thug’s popularity has been astronomical, thanks in part to an extensive series of collaborations. He has dropped collabs with the likes of Drake, Dua Lipa, Post Malone, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Juice WRLD, Future, and others besides, leaving no corner of contemporary hip-hop untouched.
Key milestones in his development include his 2014 chart debut ‘Stoner,’ his 2015 single ‘Best Friend,’ and the release of his 2021 album Punk.
Gucci Mane pioneered trap music out of Atlanta along with fellow trap artists T.I. and Jeezy. He is one of the biggest names in the genre.
Gucci Mane first made a splash with his 2005 album Trap House. He has gone on to become one of the most-influential artists in the world of rap.
Since Trap House, he released a further 14 studio albums. His prolific album releases have led to the fact that he now has more Billboard Top 10 Rap Albums than any other hip-hop artist in history.
Check out his single ‘I Get the Bag’ featuring Migos, and delve deeper with his latest 2021 LP Ice Daddy.
Emerging from the Atlanta hotbed of rap talent, 21 Savage is a huge name in trap and hip-hop. After a couple of smaller EP releases, his 2016 EP Savage Mode saw him gain international attention.
21 Savage went on to become one of the genre’s biggest successes, thanks to two major releases. Firstly, he featured on Post Malone’s 2017 Grammy-nominated single ‘Rockstar,’ which reached number on the Billboard Hot 100.
His second massive hit was the viral sensation ‘a lot’ from his chart-topping 2018 album I Am > I Was, which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2020.
How many streams has that legendary record had? You guessed it: a lot.
Atlanta-based trio Migos are comprised of Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff. Having made music together since they were kids, the three relatives’ flight to success was rapid.
They released their debut album Yung Rich Nation in 2015. Both their second album Culture (2017) and their third album Culture II (2018) topped the US Billboard 200 chart. The third and final installment, Culture III, dropped in 2021. Of those three records, the first remains the most critically acclaimed, receiving an 8.1 from Pitchfork.
Some of their biggest tracks include ‘MotorSport’ (featuring Nicki Minaj and Cardi B), ‘Stir Fry,’ and ‘Bad and Boujee’ (featuring Lil Uzi Vert). Check out Culture as their definitive album.
Atlanta-bred trap artist 2 Chainz is a big name in the genre, despite having received mixed reviews from critics. Formerly going by the moniker ‘Tity Boi,’ he changed his alias to 2 Chainz in 2011.
Part of his rise to fame was his role as a member of Playaz Circle, whose track ‘Duffle Bag Boy’ feat Lil Wayne became a huge hit.
His 2012 debut album Based On A T.R.U. Story was star-studded, with features from the likes of Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Chris Brown. Despite including features from many of the biggest names in the business, the album received muted reviews, including a piteous 4.5 from Pitchfork.
His best album to date is his 2018 album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Check out the LP’s top singles including the laid-back ‘It’s A Vibe’ and the trap classic ‘4 AM’ featuring Travis Scott.
Future is one of the biggest names in the trap game. He is known for his melodic rapping and heavy use of autotune.
His use of autotune as a creative tool has garnered him praise from critics. Future has also often been referred to as a mumble rapper, with ‘Tony Montana’ (featuring Drake) sometimes cited as the first ever commercially successful mumble rap track.
Aside from his distinctive style, Future is known for his prolific output, which has seen him release 9 studio albums and 7 mixtapes since 2012.
His mixtapes Beastmode (2015) and Beastmode 2 (2018) are amongst his most critically-acclaimed records. Check out ‘WIFI LIT’ for a taste of his sound.
His track ‘Life Is Good’ featuring Drake is his biggest hit, having amassed over a billion streams to date across platforms.
Jeezy – formerly known as Young Jeezy, and formerly known as Lil J – is one of the original Atlanta trap artists who pioneered the scene along with T.I. and Gucci Mane.
Jeezy burst onto the scene as Young Jeezy with his debut album Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 in 2005. He since went on to release 9 more studio albums.
His biggest hits include ‘Put On’ (featuring Kanye) and ‘Soul Survivor’ (featuring Akon). Let’s Get It remains his most critically-acclaimed record, and well worth a listen as a seminal album within the trap scene.
Post Malone is by no means a fully-fledged trap artist, but he is an artist who should be on the radar of trap fans. Trap is a major influence on Post Malone’s music, and at the time of writing, Post Malone is in the top 10 most streamed artists in the world.
Post Malone blends elements of pop, R&B, and trap. In 2016 he released his debut studio album Stoney, which included the single ‘White Iverson.’
‘White Iverson’ is generally acknowledged as the song which launched Post Malone to fame. It received praise from Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, but was ridiculed by Earl Sweatshirt.
Post Malone maintains a complex relationship with the wider hip-hop community, and has been criticised for appropriating a fundamentally African-American artform. That said, he has received some acceptance. He has collaborated with trap artists including 23 Savage, and has been tour support for trap artists Future and Fetty Wap.
His biggest releases include ‘rockstar,’ ‘Better Now,’ and ‘Sunflower.’
Waka Flocka Flame
He may not be the best-known artist on this list, but Waka Flocka Flame was a hugely influential artist in the early days of trap music. Based in Atlanta, he first rose in the scene back in 2009.
Waka Flocka Flame was a frequent collaborator with Gucci Mane, with whom he was close friends (Gucci gave him the name ‘Flocka Flame’). However, after falling out with Gucci in 2013, the once prolific Waka Flocka Flame has released very little artistically. Somewhat surprisingly, in 2015, he ran for President.
His 2010 album Flockaveli is his definitive album. Pitchfork said that it ‘strips street rap to its essential characteristics and distills the genre into its purest form.’
Gunna boasts a rapid journey to fame. After featuring on Young Thug’s song ‘Floyd Mayweather’ along with heavyweights Gucci Mane and Travis Scott, the conditions were ripe for his success. He released his debut mixtape Drip Season in 2016.
Gunna’s style of trap blends typical trap hi-hats with highly melodic vocals. His more melodic style has arguably been significant to his success, which has seen him become one of the top 100 most-streamed artists in the world.
Some of his biggest tracks include ‘DOLLAZ ON MY HEAD’ (featuring Young Thug) and ‘pushin P’ (also featuring Young Thug). Delve deeper with his 2020 album WUNNA.
Along with A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg was a founding member of the Harlem-based A$AP Mob. He became one of the crew’s breakout artists, rising to become one of the best-known trap artists on the scene today.
With a career dating back to the early days of trap, Ferg dropped his debut album Trap Lord in 2013. He went on to release a total of five studio albums, most recently including Floor Seats II (2020).
Check out his hit single ‘Plain Jane.’ Other hits include ‘Shabba’ featuring A$AP Rocky and ‘New Level’ featuring Future.
Fetty Wap exploded onto the scene in 2015 with his melodic hit ‘Trap Queen.’
On the back of ‘Trap Queen’ and his debut self-titled album, Fetty Wap went on to be awarded Top New Artist by Billboard in 2016.
His unusual name comes from the word ‘Fetty’ (money) with ‘Wap’ derived from Gucci Mane’s alias ‘Guwap.’
In the years following the release of ‘Trap Queen,’ it took Fetty Wap some years to release his second album. (During that period he fathered six children to five different women). However, he dropped a number of hits including ‘My Way’ featuring Monty, and ‘679’ featuring Remy Boyz.
He returned in 2021 with his second studio album The Butterfly Effect.
Hailing from Miami, Rick Ross is somewhat of an outlier in the southern hip-hop and trap scene, with so many of the genre’s major artists based in Atlanta and Houston.
That has not stopped Rick Ross from becoming one of trap’s best known artists, with his explosive 2006 track ‘Hustlin’ standing out as one of the genre’s definitive hits.
The prolific rapper and record producer went on to release 11 studio albums.
Rick Ross was called out for promoting date rape in Rocko’s 2013 song ‘U.O.E.N.O.,’ which led to Reebok terminating a sponsorship with the artist. His comments on social media made it clear that he did not understand, or was not willing to acknowledge the gravity of the accusations against him.
Rick Ross is also known as a founding member of the Triple C’s rap group, and the founder of the label Maybach Musical Group, on which he released the majority of his albums.
Since dropping his Perfect Timing mixtape in 2017, Lil Baby has rapidly risen to become one of the biggest names in rap music worldwide.
Lil Baby – whose real name is Dominique Armani Jones – has an unusual story. He was initially known at Atlanta-based Quality Control records as a drug dealer. However, the studio’s founder, Coach K, encouraged Lil Baby to rap.
Lil Baby laughed the idea off for some time. Eventually Young Thug and Gunna became his mentors and helped him to develop his style. The rest is history.
Lil Baby’s 2020 album My Turn entered the Billboard 200 at number one, and became the most-streamed and top-selling album that year in any genre. The record features many of trap’s biggest artists including Gunna, Future, Young Thug, and Lil Uzi Vert.
His track ‘The Bigger Picture’ is a protest song that was released in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Finding resonance with people around the world, the track won two Grammy awards.
Some of Lil Baby’s other big tracks include ‘Drip Too Hard’ featuring Gunna, ‘In A Minute,’ and ‘On Me.’ Make sure to check out hits from My Turn including ‘Woah,’ ‘Emotionally Scarred,’ and ‘Sum 2 Prove.’
Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert is a trap artist known for his sensational antics, and for a style of music that borders on cloud rap and emo rap. He has a heavily melodic style that is more focused on melody than lyricism. This has led to some people labeling him as a mumble rapper, although others have defended his musicality.
Aside from his music, he is known for his essential fashion style, facial tattoos, and for having a $24m diamond embedded in his forehead, before it was ripped out by fans while he was crowd surfing.
A lifelong fan of Marilyn Manson, Lil Uzi Vert has been accused of being a satanist.
Migos helped Lil Uzi Vert on his rise to fame with a feature on their track ‘Bad & Boujee.’ With his 2017 album Luv is Rage 2 he put himself on the map. His 2020 follow-up album Eternal Atake was critically acclaimed, receiving an 8.4 from Pitchfork.
Check out tracks from that album including ‘Myron’ and ‘Erase Your Social.’
Cardi B is one of the most successful female rappers of all time. Although her music is not strictly defined as trap, a strong trap influence is unmissable in many of her tracks.
She exploded onto the scene with her single smash hit single ‘Bodak Yellow.’ Her 2018 debut album Invasion of Privacy debuted at number one, and was named the number one female rap album of the decade by Billboard.
Since Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B has gone on to cement her reputation with hits including ‘WAP’ featuring Megan Thee Stallion, ‘Up,’ and ‘I Like It.’
Cardi B, whose style incorporates elements of latin and pop, is a prime example of an artist bringing trap into the centre of the mainstream.
Lil Yachty has described his distinctive sound as bubblegum trap. His unusual aesthetic has involved sampling from TV shows and video games, including Super Mario Bros and Rugrats.
The rapper first rose to fame with the melodic, heavily autotuned 2015 hit ‘One Night,’ which went platinum. The track remains his biggest hit, typifying his sound. His irreverent style, demonstrated in ‘One Night’ has seen him labeled as a mumble rapper.
Since the success of ‘One Night,’ Lil Yachty has released four studio albums: Teenage Emotions (2017), Lil Boat 2 (2018), Nuthin’ 2 Prove (2018), and Lil Boat 3 (2020).
Hailing from Atlanta, Playboi Carti’s style is comparable to Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert in the cloud rap or mumble rap niche, with a heavy focus on melody and atmosphere over lyricism.
Early singles including ‘Broke Boi’ and ‘Fetti’ got Playboi Carti on the map, as well as his association with A$AP Mob. With the backing of A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti went from strength to strength.
The mumble rap label has not prevented him from reaching critical acclaim, thanks to his experimental production, swagger, and playful energy. Both his 2018 album Die Lit and his aggressive 2020 album Whole Lotta Red have been lauded by critics.
Playboi Carti is arguably one of the most consistent, stand-out artists in the scene today. Check out hits ‘Sky’ and ‘Vamp Anthem’ off Whole Lotta Red.
T.I., also known at TIP, is often credited as one of the artists who established trap as a genre, along with Jeezy and Gucci Mane. He dropped his first studio album in 2001, and has gone on to release a total of 12 albums.
As well as picking up three Grammy awards, T.I. is one of the best-selling hip-hop artists of all time.
If you’re looking to dig in T.I’s music, his 2006 album King is a fan favourite. However, his 2003 album Trap Muzik was a seminal record in the genre, and arguably stands as his definitive work.
Header image: Playboi Carti