Home > Tales of the Weird > Southern Hip-Hop in Santa Cruz: Trapping the Sound

Southern Hip-Hop in Santa Cruz: Trapping the Sound


by Mat Weir

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest in music trends, the name Trap Music shouldn’t be anything new. But for those of you who haven’t seen the inside of a club since the Reagan years, Trap Music is the rising style of electronic hip-hop–that was originally created in the 90’s.

“It’s basically Southern hip-hop,” describes Santa Cruz DJ, Andrew “The Pirate” Gruver, “that was made by drug dealers in the early ’90s. They would drink Lean (promethazine), making them move slow so the music was slow.”

Mixed with syncopated high-hat rhythms, booming subs and crisp, snare build-ups, Trap spread throughout the South earning two resurgences, one in the early 2000s (with artists like T.I.) and the latest happening only within the last several months. The current trend is happening with electronic music DJs mixing Trap into their sets and with the rise of artists like 2Chainz and Baauer; who’s “Harlem Shake” song became an internet sensation that Warner Brothers recently won the distributing rights for in an all-out bidding war.

“All of a sudden, Trap became an epidemic,” Gruver excitedly tells me.

For the past two years, Gruver has worked with DJ Little John’s company, Raindance Presents, throwing the monthly electronic show, SpaceBass, at the Motiv Bar in downtown. They are constantly booking artists that are on the cutting edge of what they do, keeping the bodies dancing and the party rocking.

“At first, we started off pushing the boundaries of what music you would want to party to,” explains Gruver, “but sometimes people would show up and look like they were being alienated. So now we just try to throw fun parties with diverse line-ups.”

Besides collaborating with Raindance Presents, Gruver also has this own promotion company, ILLevated Productions with his business partner, Chris Kite. On Saturday, March 23, they are throwing a Trap Music rager in the Felton hills at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall.

An amazing who’s-who of Bay Area DJs, the all-night party will showcase one of San Francisco’s most sought-after DJs, An-Ten-Nae, (who is also part of the LowRIDERz crew and has been releasing Acid Crunk compilations for years), along with Oakland’s Lafa Taylor dropping gritty beats and San Jose’s Indakyes mixing in the crunk, with DJ Groove Angle opening.

“He’s a local [Santa Cruz] dude who plays great Giltch Hop,” says Gruver “He’s so good at being the opening DJ, which is really important to set the vibe and get it right. We also have a side room dedicated to Trap, with Noiz 23, Zebuel a.ka. Zeb Early, and Napsty.”

So when the grandkids ask you where you were when the great Trap Music scene exploded in 2013, will you say you danced all-night, saw the latest and greatest in Bay Area DJs and created a plethora of memories, or will it be just another story about a Big Bang Theory re-run?

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