The purpose of the r/trap Essentials List is to exhibit what we believe to be the most important and influential singles, albums/EPs, and mixes of the electronic trap genre (including other associated trap genres, e.g. future bass, hybrid, twerk, etc.). We have determined that for a release to qualify as an “essential” release, it must have made a lasting impact on the genre, regardless of its popularity.
In this write-up, we will discuss what trap is, briefly describe its history, document the essential releases of each year and provide a contextualized overview of the genre. We believe time is needed to properly gauge the impact a release has had on this genre, so we have decided to stop at 2016 for the first edition.
We will also provide in-depth descriptions of who we consider to be the most essential music producers in trap: those artists who have innovated and shaped the genre in incredible and definitive ways.
We hope you find the r/trap Essentials List informative. We would like to extend a final word of thanks to our writers and contributors.
Please note: we'll be rolling out the website content in separate phases each week. Check this site and the subreddit each week for more info.
Within the last 10 years, trap music has become an ambiguous genre label. To avoid any further confusion, we want to specify the type of music we plan on discussing. We recognize the inspiration that this music has taken from Southern hip-hop, but for the purposes of this project, “trap” refers to the hip-hop influenced subgenre of electronic bass music unless otherwise specified.
Being a mix of many styles and backgrounds, it is hard to pin down what exactly defines “trap.” For example, “hip-hop influenced electronic bass music” could also refer to G-house or Jersey club. Defining trap through musical features is also difficult. While house music ranges from 115 to 130 bpm with a 4/4 kick, trap music can range from 70 to 160 bpm and include a variety of percussion patterns. What IS common among trap tracks is a heavy emphasis on sub-bass, a syncopated rhythm with 808 percussion samples, fast paced hi-hats, and a dark atmosphere.
Electronic trap music’s roots begin with Southern hip-hop and trap production. Both genres rely heavily on their distinct style of drums. Producers such as Zaytoven, Lex Luger, Drumma Boy, and Southside reached the radio, supporting hip-hop’s biggest names with beat production featuring triplet hi-hats, heavy 808s, and layered synths. Waka Flocka Flame’s Flockaveli released in October 2010, debuting at number 6 on the US Billboard 200. Once the characteristic trap-bounce was planted in the ears of the American mainstream, the flood-gates opened for the first wave of electronic trap producers.
With new hip-hop beats for inspiration, the missing piece of the puzzle for these early electronic trap producers was the unique aesthetic. Artists like Lunice, Sinjin Hawke and Hudson Mohawke were exhibiting their ominous, instrumental mutations of hip-hop with shimmering pads, blaring horns and sampled rap vocals. Drum machine maestro Araabmuzik’s signature sound became the fusion of trance music and stuttering hi-hat hip-hop beats, which would lead to the critically-acclaimed Electronic Dream mixtape and his accompanying international tour. Rustie’s maximalist attitude of combining elements of progressive rock, trance, hip-hop, dubstep and ambient music on Glass Swords (which The Guardian would name as one of the best albums of 2011) was so extreme, online music reviewers coined it as a new genre, “aquacrunk.”
The beats were laid, the instruments were huge and the 808 kicks were booming - yet, electronic trap still didn’t have a name, or a massive club appeal outside of its biggest titans. The first reviews of artists who became associated with electronic trap as we know it today were nebulous. The only properly published review for Lunice’s Stacker Upper EP (on JunoDownload) does not mention the word “trap” or any of the previously mentioned hip-hop names at all; the closest allusion to it is “a new twist on hip-hop”. The Pitchfork review of Rustie’s distinguished Glass Swords describes the music as post-dubstep and psychedelic with influences of pop-rave: no mention of the T-word at all. The same can be said of Araabmuzik’s Electronic Dream. But within the next two years, the genre would explode and finally have a proper name: trap.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2011.
Arguably the most important year for trap music, 2012 saw the release of genre-defining tracks from newcomers such as Flosstradamus, UZ, Baauer, and RL Grime. Trap music released during this time can be characterized as relatively minimalist as well as 808 and sample-focused, pulling influences from Southern hip-hop music. The origins of trap with experimenting bedroom producers led to the inclusion of flippant samples such as “This is a certified hood classic,” “Run the track,” and “Damn son, where’d you find this?” indicating a playful self-aware culture.
The first major trap release is widely believed to be the Flosstradamus remix of Major Lazer’s “Original Don.” The song gradually took off, and Flosstradamus expanded on this fresh idea with their Total Recall EP, Diplo and Friends Mix, and Banned Mixtape later that year. Many of trap’s biggest producers began experimenting with the genre soon after this remix. The TNGHT EP, the collaborative project between Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, set the bar for many, inspiring fans to try their hand at music production. The first 9 songs of ƱZ’s famous Trap Shit series were also released during this year in two separate EP’s, catapulting the masked producer into the electronic music spotlight. RL Grime established some dominance in the genre as well, with the solid Grapes EP, excellent remixes of “Pour It Up,” “Satisfaction,” and “Mercy” with Salva, and strong singles such as “Trap On Acid” and “FLOOD.” He would also start his legendary Halloween Mixtape series in 2012, which is arguably the most famous trap mix series.
With a solid discography forming, this new genre of music was starting to fill the void left behind by fans who were getting tired of dubstep and moombahton. Towards the end of 2012, trap music started to have a genuine following. Established artists at the time such as Flying Lotus and Skrillex began playing some of these tracks and the larger trap artists at the time started getting festival bookings if they hadn't already. As hip hop and rap continued to grow in popularity in the US, it only made sense that the subgenre of electronic music that it influenced grew as well.
2012 helped see the introduction of electronic trap music in the mainstream, famously through Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.” Though the song was released in 2012, the Harlem Shake meme went viral in early 2013 after Filthy Frank posted a short video of himself and a few others dancing to the song. The popularity of this meme pushed “Harlem Shake” to #1 on the iTunes America chart and #2 in the UK and Australia. The song also reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single previously held the world record for Most Weekly Streams, accumulating 103.1 million streams in one week. Other artists were also starting to make waves in the greater music industry. For example, Rustie’s BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix received widespread praise, earning a spot in the Rolling Stone’s Top 25 DJ Mixes of All Time.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2012.
Trap successfully established itself in the broader electronic space in 2013 as an alternative for listeners that found themselves gravitating towards an energetic music experience but were either jaded by the stale nature of bigroom EDM releases or didn’t have the appetite for dubstep.
2013 additionally saw a proliferation of releases in a genre that had previously been concentrated amongst a nucleus of high profile artists including RL Grime, Baauer, Flosstradamus, TNGHT and UZ; trap music grew from a fringe style to a genuine movement. The SoundCloud platform proved to be a breeding ground of originality where a number of subgenres began to take shape. Mr. Carmack was one of the first artists in the space to show a diverse production palette (showcased on Bang Vol. 3), effortlessly crafting tunes that ranged from ignorant bangers to melodic cuts. The beat scene flourished as artists like Stwo, Djemba Djemba and the rest of the Team Supreme crew continued to incorporate traditional hip-hop elements in their productions, showing that the genre had worth outside of electronic constraints for which it had been known.
The most popular trap-adjacent subgenre of the year was twerk music. It highlighted a shift away from the half-time, electronic influences that had made trap so popular and towards more of a club vibe. The Twonk Team mixtapes curated by Brillz showed the versatility of the genre, demonstrating its relevance in a traditional nightclub atmosphere. Artists like Baauer, Brillz, TWRK, Milo & Otis, Loudpvck and Diplo became the faces of the 100 bpm movement that quickly lost steam at the end of 2013, arguably due to the lack of synth and percussion variation. Since sound design was still rudimentary at the time, songs like DJ Snake and Alesia’s “Bird Machine” rose to popularity for their out-of-left-field concepts, while tracks with percussion-based leads rose to prominence thanks to Baauer and RL Grime’s “Infinite Daps” and Losco’s XXXX EP.
The genre of Future Bass began to take shape, as people that were fans of the Flux Pavilion, Xilent or Seven Lions melodic dubstep found crossover appeal in the brighter Rustie, Flume and Wave Racer releases. The latter two Australian artists are shining examples of how region had begun to sonically shape styles. The music coming out of Australia had an identifiable personality, clearly apparent in What So Not’s Jaguar and Touched. Yellow Claw included elements of the Dutch hardstyle and bounce scenes in their trap releases. Artists like Sam Gellaitry and Mura Masa of western-Europe began to fine-tune their sounds, preferring to use negative space and exotic samples with their trap beats. North America continued to be an incubator of bangers as RL Grime and Flosstradamus asserted their dominance with the EPs High Beams and Nomads respectively. The American style culminated in the most popular trap song of the year, DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What”, which peaked at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
“Turn Down For What”, however, was not the only song that broke through to a wider audience. The Branchez remix of What So Not’s “High You Are” was arguably one of the most famous songs released on Soundcloud that year, a huge step forward for Skrillex’s OWSLA label. Flume also turned the heads of many traditionally non-electronic listeners with his remix of Disclosure’s “You and Me” which rose to fame thanks to the prevalence of online music blogs. These two songs became popular since they gave an easily-accessible, fresh face to the stigmatized “EDM” sound.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2013.
Though trap surged in popularity, the monolith of big room house from the Netherlands still dwarfed it on the festival circuit. However, the genre was picking up steam and big name support very quickly. Artists like Dillon Francis, Flosstradamus and RL Grime were getting large enough to pack clubs and festival side-stages. “Festival trap” remixes of big room songs were beginning to be phased out as trap originals, 100 bpm twerk music and the occasional hip-hop edit became enough to engage ravers passing by. Festival goers quickly became drawn to this newer, more erratic style of DJing. To appeal to this new crowd’s demand for stimulation, trap bangers became even more energetic and diverse. In doing so, trap’s growing influence began to reach to its adjacent bass genres of future bass and hybrid trap, expanding the genre’s audience. By this time next year, trap would begin infiltrating the mainstage.
Twerk trap continued its rise in popularity thanks to artists like DJ Snake and Milo & Otis. DJ Snake especially quickly became an icon with his follow up to “Turn Down For What” (TDFW) entitled “Get Low” with Dillon Francis. This song saw a similar level of popularity to TDFW and became a staple in many sets throughout the year. It was also used in many commercials and TV shows, demonstrating how widespread trap was becoming. Milo & Otis also established themselves as household names for this style of trap-influenced twerk music. Composed of two previously known producers NYMZ and Killagraham, they came out on the scene with a signature screechy and rubbery sound that was instantly recognizable. The two toured alongside Skrillex, What So Not, DJ Snake and Dillon Francis during The Mothership 2.0 tour that year.
2014 also saw the release of the highly anticipated debut album of RL Grime, VOID. With iconic singles such as “Core,” “Scylla,” and “Valhalla,”VOID surpassed expectations and is seen as one of the classic albums in the genre. This massive success, alongside his collaboration with What So Not entitled “Tell Me” quickly cemented RL Grime as the figurehead for the genre in the eyes of many.
Ultimately, 2014 was trap’s “breakout year” as a young genre - its appeal reached audiences worldwide through increased exposure on the festival circuit and in turn, the biggest artists in the scene began to receive mainstage recognition. The influx of new listeners to the genre demanded an expansion of energetic sounds and innovative production that in many ways continued to propel the genre forward and culminated in some of the most popular sub-genres of trap, especially hybrid and festival trap. While the twerk trap craze has died down, it left an exciting high energy mark on the genre and proved an effective vehicle for bringing the sound of trap to the masses in clubs and festivals, altering the course of the genre moving forward.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2014.
2015 was another major year for the trap genre as many projects and artists continued to receive widespread acknowledgement in the EDM community. It’s hard to succinctly characterize the music of this year, but it can loosely be described as a period of experimentation. Songs such as “Street” by NGHTMRE and “MSMSMSM” by SOPHIE reflected the use of percussion as leads and propelled both artists to a much greater amount of recognition within the genre. The Flosstradamus and Troyboi collaboration, “Soundclash”, as well as Quix’s remix of “Uppers” by Stooki Sound and Mr. Carmack, also changed the sound production game by experimenting with lead sounds.
There were several iconic albums and EPs that were released during 2015. Rustie’s EVENIFYOUDONTBELIEVE pushed the future bass genre forward with singles such as “Big Catzzz” and “Coral Castlez.” The collaborative project and subsequent album between EDM legends Skrillex and Diplo, titled Jack Ü, was also released during this year. This album was critically acclaimed and received massive mainstream attention, highlighted particularly by their radio hit collaboration with Justin Bieber “Where Are Ü Now.” UK producer Hucci, known for his minimal structure and raw sample chopping, also released one of his biggest projects to date during this year, 404. Young prodigy Sam Gellaitry released the first EP of his legendary Escapism series. What So Not also released the long-awaited Gemini EP in 2015, with massive songs such as “Gemini” and their collaboration with Dillon Francis, “Arrows.” The Gemini EP was the last What So Not project that Flume was involved in before the duo decided to part ways, leaving Emoh Instead as the only member.
Other artists had major, essential releases in 2015 as well. Ekali started gaining traction as he and Gravez put out a wildly popular remix of Denzel Curry’s “Threatz.” Carnage & Breaux’s VIP of Eptic’s “The End” and Vincent’s remix of “U Don’t Know” by Alison Wonderland were also important remixes from this year, both receiving major festival play. With the amount of music that came out of this year that is still relevant today, 2015 provided a solid foundation for the next wave of trap producers to expand on.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2015.
In 2016, trap on the festival circuit continued to evolve in two distinct ways. Firstly, various niche subgenres of trap began to experience more popularity. There was a resurgence of minimalist trap, reminiscent of the trap music from the 2012 era. However, this new wave incorporated more experimental sound design elements. Quality Goods Records was at the forefront of this minimalist revival, bringing more underground artists into the trap spotlight such as Tascione, Ian Munro, Oski, and Champagne Drip.
Hybrid trap, a new subgenre, began to take form in 2016. While it did take some influence from dubstep sounds, hybrid is characterized by darker, more metallic tones. This was showcased through Herobust’s breakout I’m Aloud EP which demonstrated a shift toward more aggressive, trap-influenced dubstep. Dirty Audio and Rickyxsan also released their wildly popular collaboration “Gettin’ That” which featured fiercer sound-design than most trap releases at the time. The shift toward aggressive sounds also lead to a niche interest in “hard trap”, characterized by immense screeches and extra-punchy drums. Slander and Yookie’s collaboration “After All” received massive festival play, continuing the arms-race toward playing harder music.
Secondly, trap music also pushed further into mainstream music, with songs like Skrillex and Rick Ross’ “Purple Lamborghini” and Flume’s “Never Be Like You” gaining popular exposure in scenes beyond even mainstream electronic music. The latter topped the Australian ARIA Singles chart, and received a nomination for Best Dance Recording at the Grammy’s the following year. DJ Snake’s trap anthem “Propaganda” also became a staple of festival sets at the time, in part due to his wider mainstream appeal.
2016 saw the release of several influential albums and projects. Flume released one of the most popular electronic albums to date, Skin. This LP included many songs that saw radio and mainstream attention, including “Never Be Like You” and “Say It.” Baauer also released his debut album, Aa, with features including Future, G-Dragon, and Pusha T. The album gained substantial attention and Baauer’s expansive choice of features displayed the widespread appeal that trap-influenced production can have. The Rekindling EP by Mr. Carmack and Djemba Djemba was important as well. Though it did not receive as much mainstream attention as the other two projects, it was used to draw attention and support to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in late 2016. The use of trap music to promote social and political ideas was completely unheard of at the time.
By the end of 2016, as big room began to fade from popularity, trap’s biggest titans were filling all but the largest festival stages. Smaller trap producers like Alison Wonderland, NGHTMRE, Boombox Cartel, Ekali, KRANE, and Quix were stepping up to fill the vacuum that the bigger trap acts were leaving behind. Many of these newcomers demonstrated greater flexibility in DJ sets, pulling from all trap adjacent genres to create diverse blends of hybrid, twerk, minimal trap, future bass and hip-hop.
The following is a breakdown of what we feel are essential trap releases from 2016.
Born in Philadelphia, Harry Bauer Rodrigues, widely known as Baauer, is one of the most diverse trap producers in the scene. From humble beatmaking beginnings making mashups and short beats in a NY apartment to trend-setting and universally respected hip-hop DJ, Baauer has established himself as one of the most respected producers of the decade. He was given an unexpected taste of global stardom when his song “Harlem Shake” grew into an internet sensation and viral challenge in 2013. It later set the record for most U.S. streams in a single week: 103.1 million in the first week of March that year. However, this has only served to conceal the true measure of his artistic ability and integrity to the wider audience, and he has made dramatic steps in his career instead of coasting off of viral popularity.
He began making music at an early age but hit his stride when he moved to New York in 2009. He released several tracks on budding label Mad Decent / Jeffrees, and produced several choice remixes for Drop The Lime, Brick and Mortar, and First Aid Kit. He began throwing his unreleased beats onto the internet and received a cosign from electronic music heavyweight, Rustie, who featured Harlem Shake in his famous 2012 BBC Essential Mix. In 2012 he signed to the same label as Rustie, LuckyMe, and released his DumDum EP.
Baauer is highly sought-after as a remixer, and doesn’t stick to any singular genre or sound palette in his creative process. His remix deck ranges from huge DJ tools for Nero, Flosstradamus and Disclosure, to wavy bass reworks of Shlohmo, AlunaGeorge, and Ryan Hemsworth. He has even been asked to create official remixes for legends like The Prodigy, Flume, Gorillaz and Alt-J. Baauer is also a prolific collaborator, from his track “Infinite Daps” with trap king RL Grime, to his collabs with Boys Noize, Araabmuzik, and famous hip-hop producer Just Blaze, with whom he released the hit “Higher,” featuring Jay-Z on the vocal tag.
After traveling for a year with famous underground producer Nick Hook on a trip sponsored by Red Bull to record sounds from around the world, Baauer released his first album, Aa, in 2016. He utilized resources off the back of his viral fame to great effect, recruiting famous rap figures to collaborate on his tracks. Future, Pusha T, M.I.A and G-Dragon all shine on their verses, while more underground figures like Novelist, Leikeli47, and TT The Artist provide even more heat. The solo tracks all shine in their own right, from the stampeding “GoGo!” to the bassy bounce of “Sow” and the late night flows of “Pinku” and “Good & Bad”. The album ends with a reprise of the opening song, “Church”, and labelmate Rustie returns to throw some ethereal guitar chords on the track as a final blessing to his friend on his debut album.
Baauer has continued to release bangers since the album (“Paauer”, “Sout London”, and a remix for Kodak Black) and has been headlining festivals and shows all around the world. His mix of traditional hip-hop structures with a sample-based flavor serves to make him one of the most respected trap producers active today.
Cashmere Cat, born Magnus August Høiberg, is a Norwegian electronic artist first known for his DJing skills and more recently, his production talents. His signature sound blends softer instrumentation such as harps and piano with R&B beats, jersey club samples, vocal samples, bells, and light, ethereal synths. Reimagining his audience as youth listening to his music alone in their room, Cashmere Cat favors a more playful sound in his productions and live performances. While Cashmere Cat isn’t strictly a “trap” producer, he has released several tracks that are distinctly trap influenced or contain trap elements. His willingness to use whimsical musical elements give him appeal to a trap crowd looking for more conventional songwriting.
Høiberg’s first releases under the Cashmere Cat alias were a series of remixes in 2011 and 2012, including Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” and Jeremih’s “773 Love.” In late 2012, he released his first EP, Mirror Maru, featuring 4 tracks. Mirror Maru cemented the Cashmere Cat eclectic sound palette of interwoven poppy melodies with electronic drum beats and drew acclaim from the likes of Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, and Diplo. With an established sound and identity, Cashmere Cat continued to push the boundaries of blending electronic and pop music with his edit of “No Lie” by 2 Chainz and Drake, his iconic remix of Miguel’s “Do You?,” and his original release “Aurora.”
In 2014, Cashmere Cat released his second EP, Wedding Bells, further establishing his signature sound and garnering support from major artists. Within the year, Cashmere Cat had produced “Be My Baby” for Ariana Grande, and continued to produce for major pop acts including Ludacris, Ryn Weaver, Charli XCX, and Jeremih. Cashmere Cat also released a trap collaboration with DJ Mustard, titled “Ice Rink” at the beginning of 2015. In 2016, Cashmere Cat partnered with producer Sinjin Hawke to produce “Wolves” for Kanye West, which Cashmere Cat has indicated was the most significant moment in his production career. While his signature sound wasn’t lost, Cashmere Cat’s experience producing with radio-friendly artists helped to expand his repertoire of styles to incorporate more accessible song structure and vocals and move away from instrumental-oriented tracks.
On April 28, 2017, Cashmere Cat released his debut album, 9, with a host of power features including Kehlani, MØ, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, Selena Gomez, and producer SOPHIE. 9 represents a complete realization of Cashmere Cat’s playful, genre-defying production with top-notch pop talent, but notably grants Cashmere Cat’s sound the center stage, distinct from his past pop collaborations where he had taken a back seat.
Thomas Wesley Pentz, better known as Diplo, is one of the most accredited taste-makers of American dance music. With massive side projects such as Major Lazer, Jack Ü, LSD, and Silk City, Diplo has undoubtedly brought electronic music to a wider audience. As demonstrated by his pre-2010 house, soca, reggae, Miami bass, punk and Jazz records, Diplo prides himself in both his ability to pull from the past, and his vision of sound from the future. In 2011, he continued to push this vision to the American club and festival circuit himself, as well as supporting the Mad Decent roster, exposing new audiences to moombahton and the earliest renditions of trap.
From 2012 to 2014, Diplo had created a surprising number of trap hits. He has released trap remixes of Grizzly Bear’s 'Will Calls' (2013), Sleigh Bells’ 'Demons' (2012) and Dawn Golden’s 'All I Want' (2014). His productions for Madonna, Chris Brown, Sia, MØ, XXXTentacion, Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber contain a heavy trap influence. His work on songs like 'Dirty Vibe' (his first official collaboration with Skrillex) and 'Revolution' demonstrate the energetic and forward-thinking trap elements that would influence the explosion of trap in American EDM, particularly festival and twerk trap.
As trap made its mark on the EDM mainstream in 2015, Diplo rose above and beyond it, hitting the radio with original material like 'Lean On' and 'Light It Up (Remix)' as Major Lazer, or 'Take Ü There' and 'Where Are Ü Now' as Jack Ü. Both Major Lazer and Jack Ü are considered household names, a rarity in the electronic music scene.
Diplo also founded his label, Mad Decent, in 2006 with the intent of curating and promoting experimental music. Mad Decent, along with its sub-label Good Enuff, have released songs from a wide variety of genres and has signed artists such as Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, GTA, Boombox Cartel, and Herobust.
As he hits the mainstream radio, his long-running BBC Radio 1Xtra show, Diplo & Friends, continues to bring the electric sounds of EDM, trap and forward-thinking pop toward the rest of the world. Having hosted legendary trap mixes from RL Grime, UZ, Mr. Carmack, Baauer and many more, Diplo has proven he can push both radio hits to the mainstream public and the cutting edge of electronic music to the waiting underground ear.
The importance of the duo of Curt Cameruci and Josh Young, widely known as Flosstradamus (Floss), to modern trap music can’t possibly be overstated. Floss first came onto the scene in Chicago in 2006 as local DJs throwing weekly events at small clubs around the city. They began to garner more national attention in the late 2000’s and were able to string together tour dates across the country. By 2010, those tour dates ran dry and Floss realized that they needed to pivot towards production if they wanted to keep the project alive.
This sparked “Floss 2.0” (as Curt labels the period in Willy Joy’s Back to Back podcast). The duo initially tried to get their beats to rappers but were unsuccessful in getting a response. In turn, they uploaded them to SoundCloud along with festival edits and remixes. The catalyst for the initial Flosstradamus boom was their remix of Major Lazer’s “Original Don”. The track is widely seen as a classic in the genre and can be identified as the catalyst of the festival trap wave that began in 2012. They continued to release singles sampling hardstyle and trance songs, including “Total Recall”, released on Mad Decent. Shortly after, they released another single under Fool’s Gold Records titled “Rollup”. While the original mix became popular in its own right, the Baauer remix added even more fuel to festival trap explosion. Later in 2012, Floss released what would be first edition of their legendary mix series BANNED. These mixtapes were among the first of their kind to blend hip-hop anthems and trap together into the festival trap formula we all know today. Floss finished out 2012 with a few more massive singles including “UNDERGROUND ANTHEM”, “Lana’s Theme” and “Hood Fantasy”.
With one of the largest trap discographies at the time and booked for several festival dates in the U.S., the emerging trap scene of early 2014 had its eye on Floss to put out festival bangers. They released many trap singles that would become associated with the popularity rise of electronic trap in the U.S. Tracks like “Mosh Pit” with Casino, “Prison Riot” with GTA and Lil Jon and “Soundclash” with Troyboi. Remixes of popular hip-hop songs at the time like OT Genasis’ “Coco” and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” eased the path for DJs to include popular hip-hop singles in sets.
After a few more world tours and many festivals, Flosstradamus began to step foot into more mainstream collaborations, such as “Came Up” with graves and Post Malone. In late 2016, Josh Young announced his split from Flosstradamus to focus on his new solo project as YehMe2 which was more influenced by the sound of OG trap music. Curt continued to play shows as Flosstradamus, releasing new singles such as “Back Again” with Waka Flocka Flame and “How You Gon Do That to Me”, continuing the project into more mainstream appeal.
Flosstradamus are the trap hometown heroes of Chicago. Their first few originals became the prototypes for the trap wave we know today, and their extensive touring helped bring trap music to many corners of the world.
Flume was the name of Harley Streten’s “weird beats” side-project while he produced and toured under What So Not with Emoh Instead (See the What So Not writeup for more information). In the early years of Flume, Streten uploaded to Soundcloud, not expecting to eventually breach Australian radio, American electronic fans and eventually the worldwide mainstream radio in the following years.
His career start is documented in near every interview: producing from a young age (allegedly from a computer program that came in a cereal box), entering a label contest, having a great team, and taking his music to millions worldwide. At age 20, Flume was working a variety of day jobs, including waiting tables at Hard Rock Cafe and cleaning offices. He submitted “Sleepless”, “Paper Thin” and “Over You” to a contest held by indie record label Future Classic, where he would win second place. Nathan McClay, founder of Future Classic, would take Flume under his wing, releasing his debut self-titled album in 2012 under the label. Songs like “Holdin On”, “On Top” and his remix of Hermitude’s “Hyperparadise” began to reach the ears of music critics and listeners overseas, bringing attention to Australia’s newest big electronic producer. Flume embarked on his first world tour in 2013 at the age of 22. As the Flume project grew larger, Streten left the What So Not project in early 2015 after the release of the Gemini EP.
His official remixes of Disclosure’s “You & Me” (2012) and Lorde’s “Tennis Court” (2014) have become nearly, if not more iconic than the originals. With singles “Never Be Like You” with Kai and “Say It” with Tove Lo hitting hundreds of millions of plays through mainstream radio stations, Flume solidified his sound into the ears of mainstream and electronic fans who enjoy an experimental flair. In 2017, Flume’s sophomore album Skin won a Grammy for “Best Dance/Electronic Album”.
Although hip-hop is the backbone of Flume’s music, he pulls from elements of future bass, a sound that he is well known for helping to cement. What separates Flume from other trap or hip-hop artists is his wildly eclectic tastes from Flying Lotus, Jon Hopkins to Arca. His knack for off-kilter rhythms, distorted experimental sounds and electronic ambience sneaks its way into even his most mainstream songs. With his strange array of his influences combined with his love of dance music, he has carved out a lane of his own in the sphere of electronic music.
In short, Flume is a versatile producer who embodies the roots of trap as we know it today: electronic dance elements fused with hip-hop drums. By refusing to adhere to trends, Flume dug his own spot in the ears of trap and electronic music fans.
Ross Matthew Birchard, also known as Hudson Mohawke, is one of trap’s earliest and longest-running figureheads. As half of the TNGHT project, he inspired most of the rising producers that we know and love today. As a producer & songwriter for others, he created massive hits for artists like Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, and Lil Wayne. As Hudson Mohawke, he has a discography full of forward thinking music, featured in projects such as Grand Theft Auto and Watch Dogs. He is currently signed to Warp Records and is a founding member of the LuckyMe collective.
Mohawke’s first official release was in 2008 with “Ooops! (Oh My).” He would continue to release several projects such as his PolyFolk Dance EP in 2009, his first studio album, Butter, in 2009, and his remix of Gucci Mane’s “Party Animal” in 2011. The latter song caught the attention of Lunice, who would reach out to him and form TNGHT. His first breakout EP was Satin Panthers (2011) with classic trap songs such as “Cbat” and “Furnace Loop”. In 2012, he assisted with production on “Mercy” by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz, arguably the biggest rap song to be released that year. His collaborative project with Lunice, TNGHT, exploded and is considered one of the earliest instances of electronic trap music (see the TNGHT article for more information). At the time, he also signed to G.O.O.D. Music, Kanye West’s record label.
Hudson Mohawke worked with labelmates S-Type and Nick Hook in 2014 to produce The Rap Monument, a 42 minute long posse cut sponsored by Hennessy and Noisy. Featuring bars from YG, Pusha T, Young Thug, Action Bronson, Danny Brown, and more, the project saw contributions from artists in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York City.
That year, he also released his hit single “Chimes” which received a remix featuring Pusha T, French Montana, Travis Scott, and Future. He released his LP Lantern (2015), which reflected his intentions to return to his roots. His 2017 song, “Passports” featuring Remy Banks, is part of the Silicon Valley OST. More recently, Mohawke focused on producing for other artists, over solo material. Hudson Mohawke has proven that he’s a multi-faceted producer of trap music.
Born in Montréal, Canada, the energetic beatmaker and dancer Lunice Fermin Pierre II is one of the titans of the new electronic hip-hop scene. Aside from his legendary work with fellow producer Hudson Mohawke (HudMo) on the TNGHT project, he has maintained a steady solo career, starting with humble beginnings making cloud-rap beats on Myspace, and culminating in his first album, CCCLX, almost ten years later.
Although his sound has changed dramatically from those early days, those beginning beats first opened his path to his home at LuckyMe Records when he landed in fellow producer Rustie’s top 8 in Myspace. That initial notice led to an introduction to the LuckyMe family and HudMo, and he would help bring them to his hometown for their first North American show. He would go on to release Stacker Upper EP (2010) and One Hunned EP (2011) with them.
Following a successful headlining of the SXSW Warp Records showcase, Lunice and Hudson Mohawke released the groundbreaking TNGHT EP in 2012. One of the most acclaimed records ever to come out of the genre, it was immediately embraced by the hip-hop and electronic communities.
“We knew that there was going to be some kind of electronic trap wave coming,” Lunice says. “We didn't necessarily want to be part of it. You can’t control when you end up crossing over into mainstream culture, and we wanted to make sure we have a foundation, a set of skills, so we can back it up for when we do.” So he went dark on social media, and began observing the currents of culture, attempting to “piece patterns together” from different trends.
He released the heavy hitter “Can’t Wait To” in 2014, but then decided to step back from the musical spotlight. However, he was still involved in the scene, serving as a judge for the Annual Independent Music Awards two years running. He released the 180 EP in 2015, as well as remixes for Dillon Francis and G Jones / Bleep Bloop. He hunkered down for the next year and a half to create his first album CCCLX, a structured cross between his hip-hop roots and the grandeur of opera music. It featured Denzel Curry, SOPHIE, frequent Montreal collaborator CJ Fleming, and production assistance from famous Kanye engineer and executive producer Mike Dean, as well as a few instrumental tracks that had been created more than six years earlier. The album was released in September of 2017. Two months later, he worked with famous hip-hop producer The Alchemist to create an EP entitled Moving Parts as a collaboration for the world’s largest breakdance competition, Red Bull BC One World Finals.
Aaron Carmack, better known by his stage name 'Mr. Carmack', is one of the most respected and acclaimed musicians in the West Coast beat scene due to his unparalleled groove and sound design, as well as his furious work ethic. Born to two Hawaiian musicians he grew up in a household of many musical influences and genres. His own releases have shown that his musical range knows no bounds, no barriers to sound, or style that cannot be perfected and reinvented. His music is characterized by excellent bass and synth design, evocative melodies and an excellent attention to movement in the “pocket” (his description of his use of swing to create a natural and organic tempo in his beats). He also has a strong passion for sampling and psychedelic vocal samples and chops.
He grew up outside San Francisco, and took influence from California rappers and the surrounding culture of the Bay Area. He attended school near Long Beach, during which he released his first EP 'Frozen', but dropped out after two years and moved to Oahu. He had been making music for many years (one of the main side projects being DJ AC), but the move to Hawaii was the catalyst for his new artistic explosion. He has worked with many musicians, but has strongest ties to the two California collectives of Soulection and Team Supreme.
While in Hawaii, he briefly experienced homelessness while still grinding and making beats with every available moment outside of working full time. During this period of time, he experimented with Flying Lotus-inspired swing melody beats and early glitchy efforts into heavy bass music with his first two albums 'Melodies, Vol 1' in 2011 and 'Vibes, Vol 2' in 2012. Later in 2012 he released a few chilled out bangers in the Blue EP, and set the stage for his most ambitious project yet.
'Bang, Vol. 3', released right at the start of 2013, was the culmination of several years of success in the beatmaking underground - and Carmack did not disappoint. Crowd favorite 'Pay For What' was the popular highlight on the album, with deeper cuts like 'Gimme Dat' and 'Fire (No Payroll)' getting support from big league DJs like Diplo and RL Grime. However he still kept to his chill roots with gorgeous pieces like 'Rogue' and 'Grind (Lex)', and began to slowly move into the realms of musical acclaim and excitement within the wider scene. He released the short but psychedelic 'Life/Death' EP a few months later, and the group project 'Reality' EP with friends from the Team Supreme beat collective. To cap it all off, he was given his own Diplo & Friends show with friend and collaborator Djemba Djemba, which stands as one of the best trap mixes ever made.
In 2014 he moved back to California and hit the ground running with the 'Dimebag' EP - a grab bag of random remixes, forgotten beats glitchy textures and heavenly synths - which turned out to be one of his most highly acclaimed and critically lauded projects. During this time he began to get a larger touring presence and had his first headline tour with Team Supreme friends Djemba Djemba, Great Dane, and Penthouse Penthouse. He released the 'Drugs' EP in mid-2014, a fast-paced and energetic project of trap slaps and beat making exercises, with a few almost psychotically infectious sample-chopped bangers thrown in for good measure. He finished the year with the chilled out and beautiful 'Exodus' EP, a collection of wavy tracks which used a more minimal and groovy approach to beatmaking.
In 2015, he continued making waves in the scene with the 'Red' EP and the 'White' EP in quick succession; two short-but-sweet EPs full of remixes and flips of popular hip-hop and dance tracks, and a succession of highlight singles including 'Faults', 'Dimepiece' and finally a remix and collab project with future pop star Kehlani. In 2016 he gathered almost 60 different throwaway and lost beats from the years before and blessed the trap community with the 'Yellow' EP, the largest compilations of any artist in that genre. Not content with that, he released a collaborative project with Djemba Djemba called the 'Rekindling' EP during Thanksgiving, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to Native American tribes.
Since that time he has still released occasional remixes and singles, including collabs with Tennyson, Barclay Crenshaw, and an unreleased but highly anticipated RL Grime collab, and has engaged with a futuristic musical group Project Paradis with old Soulection friend Promnite, as well as going on his first live tour with bandmate Goodnight Cody and Tsuruda. All signs point to a new album coming in 2019.
Mura Masa, born Alex Crossan, is a British electronic producer known for his signature light and airy instrumentation, namely woodwinds and bells, contrasted with powerful, lush percussion and basslines and often augmented by vocal slides. Mura Masa’s genre crossing sounds range from melancholic and enigmatic instrumentals to stripped-down kitchen-beat bangers to beautiful pop tracks. From humble beginnings of short trap beats and mixtapes to winning Grammy Awards in only 5 years, Crossan has had an almost perfect career, and continues to innovate and shine as his career continues.
Mura Masa demonstrated a talent for diverse production styles early on in his career, with his early tracks featured starkly contrasting styles. He exhibited his slow, melancholic side with tunes such as “Tough On You,” and created more upbeat tracks influenced by hip-hop artists like Kanye West and included soulful, funky sampling and colorful beats, such as “over-love.” He produced hard-hitting heavier tracks such as “tell me”, in which he also displayed an early affinity for an East-Asian inspired sound palette.
Mura Masa’s first EP, Muramasa (EP), was released on trapdoor records in April 2013 and consisted of four tracks. It exemplified Alex’s harder style with strong percussion, tasteful use of brass horns, and vocal sampling.
His first major release, however, was his 2014 mixtape Soundtrack to a Death. This release showed a significant evolution in Mura Masa’s production and composition skills, and solidified his beat-making style and signature vocal sampling across several different musical moods while maintaining album cohesion. The mixtape features Mura Masa’s signature club vocal samples at various pitches used to dramatic effect, Japanese-influenced instrumentals, infectious club basslines, innovative use of sound and instrument palettes, bouncy trap beats, minimalist trap bangers, and Jersey club influences. While the mixtape is strong across the board, the most notable tracks are “Lotus Eater,” “Miss You,” “...Girl,” “Know Me Better ft. Bonzai” and “Hell.”
Mura Masa followed up his 2014 mixtape with his 2015 Someday, Somewhere EP. This release showcases Mura Masa’s jazzy supersaw-laden hit, “Firefly” featuring vocalist NAO, hip-hop/trap banger “Low” featuring Jay Prince, and the instrumental to the future A$AP Rocky collaboration “Love$ick.” These tracks rounded out a strong EP displaying Mura Masa’s unique and innovative compositions, with standout usage of harp arpeggiation, piano chords, and vocal samples/manipulation.
In 2017, Mura Masa released his debut self-titled Mura Masa album to critical acclaim. The album featured star vocal collaborations with artists A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Desiigner, and NAO, among others. The album marked a shift in Mura Masa’s style to adapt his unique sound, compositions, and production techniques to a more mainstream and pop-oriented project and was nominated for several Grammy awards. He also dropped the non-album singles “WAVE / SOUL M8S” which feature a more traditional deep sound from him channeling a UK Bass influence.
Mura Masa has become one of the biggest electronic music producers to come out of the UK. His take on trap and hip-hop beats with pop twists has propelled him to heights that few producers have reached. His futuristic sound represents a sound in pop music rooted in the underground and his ethnically diverse London surroundings.
Henry Steinway a.k.a. RL Grime is currently regarded as the most influential artist in the electronic trap scene. Originally intended as a side-project to the electro house-influenced project Clockwork, Steinway began casually releasing under the RL Grime alias to combine his love for hip-hop and electronic dance sounds, self-releasing his 'Clipz' EP in 2011. Taking equal influence from various artists like 50 Cent, Lex Luger, and James Blake, Steinway expressed his love for the project, pleased that he was not tied down by genre and had a level of freedom he felt comfortable in.
After joining Wedidit Collective with fellow Los Angeles producers Shlohmo, D33J and Groundislava, RL Grime began to take the project more seriously, collaborating with other producers also taking influence from the Southern hip-hop scene. The largest rungs on his ladder to fame stem from his hip-hop remixes of Kanye West’s 'Mercy' (with Salva) in 2012, subsequently followed by his remix of Chief Keef “Love Sosa” in 2013, both tracks becoming anthems for the first wave of trap music. His other remixes of Rihanna’s 'Pour It Up', Drake’s 'Over' and Benny Benassi’s 'Satisfaction' became club hits in their own right as well. These tracks could be seen as DJ tools; used to introduce generally open-minded dance music fans into the trap rhythm.
In 2012, RL Grime started his annual Halloween mixtape series, something his fans look forward to every year. Fitting to the theme, these mixes explore darker sounds and beats. Although staying mainly within the trap realm, RL Grime often includes neighboring genres such as experimental bass, hip-hop and future bass in these hour-long mixes. Celebrity guests such as Shaquille O’Neal, Pharrell, Tony Hawk, and famously RL Stine have provided introductions and name drops. Due to its almost cult-like following, the Halloween mix is one of the most heavily anticipated electronic music mixes every year.
By 2014, Steinway had a large resume of trap influence under his belt. His originals 'Amphibian', 'Because of U', 'Infinite Daps' with Baauer and 'Tell Me' with What So Not led his newly acquired fanbase to his annual Halloween mix series, an ominous showcase of hip-hop, trap, dark electronic music and unreleased RL Grime tracks.
His monstrous single 'Core' made its debut at Ultra Music Festival Miami 2014, seeing official release on Wedidit three months later as the first promotional single for his upcoming album 'VOID'. Its jungle samples and ear-worm hip-hop hook in combination with cinematic hip-hop drums allowed the track to cement its place as one of the genre’s most iconic tracks. 'VOID' featured several other wildly popular tracks such as “Scylla” and “Valhalla” featuring Djemba Djemba and was widely considered to be one of the best trap albums due to the staying power of these songs.
RL Grime released his sophomore album, NOVA, on July 27, 2018. The album was preceded with the release of several singles: 'Reims', 'Era', 'I Wanna Know', and 'Undo'. Steinway experimented with a brighter, more cinematic sound with this album, while sticking to his roots of hip-hop and trap music. NOVA was also his attempt to reach a much wider audience with vocal features from Miguel, Jeremih, Joji, and Daya. He also founded his label Sable Valley, intended to push his vision of music into trap and bass music.
Steinway’s influence on the genre is still felt clearly by the trap scene’s reactions to this new addition to trap’s ever extending catalogue. A theorized reason for this continued excitement late into his career stems from his freedom to experiment outside of trap music and combine it with the roots that allowed him to create trap’s first official anthems. Steinway’s desire to become a creative artist & song-writer while paying perfect homage to trap music’s roots makes him one of the most important figures in the electronic trap genre.
From Glasgow, Scotland, Russell Whyte, professionally known as Rustie, is one of the most influential and respected producers of the new millennium. He is signed to Warp Records, and is a member of the LuckyMe record label. His first release came back in 2007 with Jagz The Smack EP and since then he’s released a number of EPs and singles, in addition to three classic albums. His music is characterized by a maximalist and bright electronic sound with a strategic use of distortion and hip-hop drum patterns. He described his music as “aquacrunk”, a moniker meant to evoke the clash between the wonky-style popularized by J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke and the bright synth-based style of Rustie’s own music.
His debut album, 'Glass Swords' (2011), is widely considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best electronic albums of all time. It was rated highly in the year end lists of The Guardian and Mixmag. FACT Magazine named it the best album of the first half of the decade. In 2012, he got behind the decks for BBC’s Essential Mix series, and put on a two hour masterclass which included music from a vast number of producers that would become artistic heavyweights in their own right such as TNGHT, Cashmere Cat, S-Type, and Baauer. This mix was one of the first times Baauer’s viral hit “Harlem Shake” was broadcasted to the world. This mix was a watershed in electronic trap music, and contributed directly to the massive growth of electronic and hip-hop crossover music.
Since then, Rustie has collaborated several times with rapper Danny Brown, made official remixes for Jack Ü, Gucci Mane, and A.G. Cook, and released two more albums, 'Green Language' (2014) and 'EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE' (2015). His track 'Slasherr' (2013) is one of the most widely played trap songs of all time, and was bolstered when Flume made an edit of it. He went on an indefinite artistic hiatus in 2016.
TNGHT is the collaborative project between producers Hudson Mohawke and Lunice. (For more information on either artist, check out their own dedicated write ups.) Formed in 2011, the group is best known for the self-titled EP that was released in 2012 and is seen as a seminal work in the trap genre.
The TNGHT EP was one of the earliest successful attempts at blending hip-hop and electronic music. Most if not all of the songs quickly made their way into festival sets from artists such as Flying Lotus and RL Grime. The ground shaking 808’s and sharp snares were not usually seen in electronic music at the time, and were appreciated as a nod to hip-hop and other Southern styles of music at the time. The TNGHT EP was widely acclaimed upon its release for being groundbreaking and ahead of its time, evidenced by the fact that these songs are still played out today. NME gave the EP 4.5 stars , while Pitchfork praised the record’s simplicity, comparing its sonic crispness to “Timbaland's game-changing creative peak.”
The second TNGHT release was “Acrylics” in 2013. Beginning with an ominous and haunting horror-movie style melody, the song builds into a massive club banger, with Mohawke’s fidgety synths and Lunice’s drum and sample-work. Although initially not as successful as their first EP, the song was embraced by the DJ community and has become one of their most played tracks, bolstered by the RL Grime edit.
TNGHT also gave an unreleased track “R U Ready” to Kanye West, which was eventually repurposed into his song “Blood on the Leaves” off the album Yeezus. At the end of 2013 the duo posted a video entitled “Waning Moon” to announce a hiatus for the project, with both artists desiring to work on their solo careers for a time. TNGHT played under 40 shows before their hiatus, featuring in festivals like Coachella, Hard Summer, Pitchfork Festival, Lockdown Festival and more.
Since the hiatus, information about TNGHT’s return has been mostly speculative. However, Hudmo tweeted about TNGHT studio sessions in 2016 and Lunice confirmed that the group was working on new music in an interview with the Red Bull Music Academy.
Guillaume Barbier, known as the masked producer UZ (stylized as ƱZ), is a large supporter of the “OG trap” sound. He is also the two time DMC World Champion DJ Troubl, and a house music producer known as Plezier. Originally from France, UZ burst onto the scene in 2012 with the beginnings of his notorious Trap Shit series. Characterized by a minimal style, mixed with ominous atmosphere and samples, and featuring underground rappers and producers, the series took the trap scene by storm, and would lead him to a legendary status within the community, as well as further releases on Mad Decent, OWSLA, and Mau5trap. UZ would continue to release songs in this series until around 2015.
Following a string of remixes and trap shit releases, he put out his Frontier EP in 2015 featuring the syncopated percussion and heavy 808’s that he is well known for. He followed with the Magellan EP in 2016, on his newly founded label, Quality Goods Records. He would continue to use this label to support experimental and minimalistic trap music producers, pushing many unknown artists into stardom.
UZ rarely did interviews and kept his identity a secret for more than five years, preferring the music to speak for itself. In 2017, however, he officially revealed his identity along with an announcement of his newest album Layers. The reason for this is that there were “too many masked artists and it really has become more of a gimmick than a message.”
2018 was a big year for UZ, as he underwent a significant rebranding. With the release of his second LP in a year and a half, Rebirth, UZ also replaced the iconic mask that he had been known for. In interviews, UZ also expressed his desire to focus more on Quality Goods Records and their events as a label.
UZ continues to be an essential artist both as a producer and as a curator. He continues to make trap more focused on beats and minimalism, similar to electronic trap’s roots. UZ and the Quality Goods label have pushed a diverse range of producers like Oski, Montell2099, UNKWN, Hydraulix, Sumthin Sumthin, Thook and many more into the ears of the trap scene.
What So Not began in 2011 as an electronic music project between Chris Emerson (Emoh Instead) and Harley Streten (Flume) and has since developed into a world renowned and influential electronic act. Creating massive sounds, detailed soundscapes, and hit singles, What So Not remains one of the most important artists of the trap world.
After remixing songs from Peking Duk and Major Lazer, What So Not released their debut EP '7 Dollar Bill' in November 2011 off of Sweat It Out!, an Australian indie record label. They released their second EP, 'The Quack', on OWSLA Records, propelling them into the spotlight. The EP’s closing track 'High You Are' was remixed multiple times, leading to its own remix EP in October 2013 - featuring the extremely popular Branchez remix.
The release of their single 'Jaguar' in December 2013 continued to boost their notoriety and featured What So Not’s signature textured synths. One of the best examples of What So Not’s staying power in the music community is 'Tell Me', their long-awaited collaboration with RL Grime, which is still played out to this day. With horns the size of a planet 'Tell Me' was supposedly named due to fans’ frequency of saying “tell me what that song is!”.
By 2015, the two members of What So Not began to have creative differences. While there was much speculation about the exact reasoning, Flume’s departure in February 2015 dealt a blow to fans of the group. As their styles have evolved, it was clear that the two had different ideas around music. Despite this, Flume still had an impact on the group since he had worked on the as-of-then unreleased Gemini EP. Following the May release of its titular single, 'Gemini' was released in December 2015 and immediately charted globally. This EP was the last release from What So Not that included Flume.
What So Not debuted his first solo work, a seven-track EP titled 'Divide and Conquer' in late 2016. He used this EP to show off his creative growth since Flume’s departure, creating songs that carried a sense of enormity. The EP featured more big ticket collaborations including GANZ, George Maple, and Kimbra. Flexing his skills as a solo producer, Emoh / What So Not crafted a cohesive project that demonstrated a wide range of music styles.
Before creating his next major project, What So Not released a few singles. 'Waiting', an RL Grime project featuring Skrillex and What So Not, had been in production since 2013. It was finally released in November 2016, accompanied by a promotional video parodying 1980s-era advertisements for dirty chat lines. He released 'Better', a song with New York artist LPX almost a year later, in September 2017.
In late January 2018, What So Not announced the arrival of his debut album, 'Not All the Beautiful Things'. Preceded by three singles, 'Not All the Beautiful Things' released in March 2018 as What So Not’s premiere LP. Collaborators on the album include San Holo, Slumberjack, and Winona Oak, as well as appearances from past featured artists such as KLP, Rome Fortune, and Daniel Johns. Arguably the two most notable important features were Skrillex and the rock band Toto. The collaboration with Skrillex, 'Goh', had been played live by both artists for years and finally got the official release many felt it deserved. After playing Toto’s hit song 'Africa' in radio shows and at live events for years, What So Not and Toto finally came together in an unexpected but fantastic collaboration on 'We Keep On Running'. Generally praised by critics, 'Not All the Beautiful Things' demonstrated What So Not’s power as a producer and set the stage for a massive world tour. With his debut LP under his belt, What So Not continues to build his legacy as one of Australia’s most influential trap producers.