As with all great things, it started from an innocent place. Reduced to a dwindling echo of it’s sinuous melody, Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” suddenly became a bouncy trap rap fanatic’s dream. The DJ booth exploded with light, flickering strobes dancing in time to “Lana’s Theme,” Chicago dance production duo Flosstradamus’ impassioned ode not just to remixing, but to what ensued, a night at what I can only call the Electric Traphouse.
The trap is a wild place in general, a land of hustles and dreams, a place where lives are bought and sold. But what happens when you take that real life notion and extrapolate its power into the digital realm, the place where time doesn’t stand still, instead becoming a fluid space where people, time, space and place exist in synergy? Money dies, ideas live. Cultural currency is most powerful vehicle, driving minds to the craziest of places. What happens when genres don’t exist, and when the ideal that genre represents – the belief that music has specific ways that it can sound in relation to other sounds – doesn’t exist either? What happens? Well, if you were in Washington DC’s underground temple of boom, aka U Street Music Hall on Sunday night, you likely suffered a cataclysmic heat stroke. The venue gets hot and sweaty for Moombahton Massive. Mid-tempo global bass has a Latin and house appeal that finds synergy with hot rooms and tropical feel. But Flosstradamus’ set? Something wild, strange, bizarre and entirely different. Sweat made fog, heat caused delirium, and the crowd went insane. The Electric Traphouse – the first new entertainment ideal of a nearly totally digitized generation – had enTRAPPED another room in its thrall.
Trap as a dance genre is arguably America’s answer to dubstep. Half-time breaks infused by hip-hop breaks, drum and bass, 2-step and garage is an idea borrowed from the United Kingdom. Half-time breaks over club music, trance, German hardstyle, hip-hop and bounce music is something American, something that comes from a space where hip-hop is pop dominant, house and disco culture is secondary and underground, and European bass-driven dance music is the new 800-lb gorilla in the pop room. There were so many bros and pretty girls in nice dresses at U Hall on Sunday night. Flosstradamus are THE sonic curiosity. Their most notable singles – the hardstyle meets trap remix of Major Lazer’s “Original Don” and marijuana trance meets rap anthem “Roll Up” – literally sound like nothing else in music at the moment. Given that Nicki Minaj records with David Guetta, and Snoop Dogg has discovered his “third eye” with Diplo and is attempting to become the living embodiment of the Lion of Judah, that’s quite the statement, but absolutely true.
These new visitors to the world of underground-made-mainstream dance joined with folks already quite aware of the connective power of dance music to be punched in the face by the figurative iron fist-in-glove that Flosstradamus, and their curious new sound represent to the faces of the universe. Of the latest and most intriguing breaking sounds, moombahton is sonic sludge, a stew of melody and bass that slowly overwhelms and absorbs into the spirit. Club music creates a hyper-intense and dance-driven reality, James Brown’s breaks that make hip-hop dope making dance a back-breaking primal experience. DJ Obeyah’s opening set of bass-heavy house and moombahton, and tour opener DJ Sliink’s funky 2-step and Chicago juke inspired takes on the thunderously percussive sound of Jersey Club music were ideal sonic appetizers for what Flosstradamus wrought.
It isn’t fair what Flosstradamus is doing, but it sounds so right. Pairing Lana Del Ray trap remixes next to Juicy J’s “Bands a Make Her Dance” and French Montana’s “Pop That,” then blending in house-meets-hip-hop abstractions like brand new tracks “Twark,” “Deaf” and “Drak Knight” inspires only the craziest of scenes. Those pretty girls in nice dresses? Imagine them as booty-popping and super twerking sweat-drenched minions of the Goddess Terpsichore, digital generation iterations of a cosmic ideal. Bro dudes? Instead imagine a sea of shirtless, fist-pumping and chest bumping friends, seemingly brand new people driven by wholly different ideals. It was a series of mind bending moments, a space where even the most hardened and aware of house heads were hot, sweaty and suffering with such a heightened level of delirium that their minds were opened to just how special this all was.
The crowd was lulled in by Obeyah, stirred into passion by Sliink, then finished by Flosstradamus. The Electric Traphouse is a space where club, moombahton and finally, trap, work in concert to create a new universe of citizens. The digital atmosphere makes ideas, sounds and even emotions into a fluid mix where nothing matters and life is driven by tempo and emotion. When minds conquer matter, things get primal. The digital generation has arrived. Long live the Internet. Long live Flosstradamus.