Photographs by Vincent Desailly that document the birthplace of 'Trap', a sub-genre of hip hop
In his first monograph, the documentary and portrait photographer Vincent Desailly captures the world that gave birth to one of the past decade's most successful musical genres, 'Trap'.
A 'trap' is a snare, but it is also a slang word for places where dealers sell drugs. In the early 2000s a unique form of hip-hop, which quickly became known as 'trap', arose in some quarters of Atlanta, Georgia.
Among the most striking musical features of this sub-genre are shuffling rhythms with intense bass drums; rapid, hissing hi-hats; and deep bass lines that create a lot of space for what are often distorted vocals.
The commercialisation of this sub-culture occurred so quickly that by 2017 at the latest, even the superstars of international pop, such as Katy Perry or M.I.A, were adopting the musical style and slowing down their beats. Reason enough for the photographer Vincent Desailly to track down the origins of this worldwide phenomenon.
Seductively beautiful and elegant, his photographs show the life and atmosphere that generated this music. There are haunting portraits of dealers, musicians, strippers, and ordinary neighbourhood residents. You see guns, or tables where drugs are measured out, but you also see scenes of everyday life on the streets or in homes. You see how the depiction of everyday life begins to speak in a language that is none other than rap's, with the pictures corresponding to its driving beats and explicit lyrics.
The genre itself has long outgrown the places where it originated, even though they are still tied to it lyrically. Gucci Mane, one of the founding fathers of the trap scene, summarises this in the foreword to this new volume of photos. He writes: "What we were making wasn’t radio-ready and definitely not destined for the charts. When I think about trap I think about something raw. Something that hasn’t been diluted. Something with no polish on it. Music that sounds as grimy as the world that it came out of."
The Trap by Vincent Desailly is published by Hatje Cantz.