Too often, mature artists look back on their early works and realize that they compromised their sound or vision. Perhaps a label was involved then, but reaching a point of career prominence means they can start doing things on their terms, their way.
Today, especially with YouTube, Soundcloud, and artists doing most of the legwork themselves, authenticity plays a greater part. Fans don’t want someone manufactured – they want a star loyal to who they are from the get-go.
This belief defines Joey Trap’s debut album Loyalty. Just 21 years old and already experiencing a degree of viral fame, the New York City-born, San Diego-based rapper is doing things his way.
For starters, Trap – which aptly stands for “Take Risks and Prosper” – isn’t relegated to one area of the creation process. He’s inspired by cartoons – and his flow and production make this clear – and he’s not afraid to manipulate his voice. Taking influence from Tyler, The Creator, Odd Future, Travis Scott, and Young Thug, his wordplay and production style grabbed attention roughly five years ago, and Loyalty serves as a manifestation of that.
Loyalty itself is a bit of everything while simultaneously showcasing Trap’s skills – East Coast meets West Coast sounds complemented by Autotune hooks and some elements of trap. We had a chance to talk about Loyalty and where Trap wants to go as a rapper and producer.
Tell us about how you got started with music
I’ve always loved music, but I didn’t know I loved making it ‘til I started to record other artists as an engineer, fresh out of high school. I worked grave-yard shift at the mall and during the day practiced recording and learning software like Pro Tools , Logic Pro X, Adobe. Practice makes perfect when you do something every day and are dedicated to learning.
What influences your music and/or production?
I listen to all kind of genres, so my influence literally comes from everything I listen to. I absorb like a sponge, but the most inspiring music to me comes from the past.
Your music borrows from multiple genres. How would you describe your sound?
I wouldn’t describe my sound, because there are so many different versions of my sound(s) that it couldn’t be simplified into one word, sentence, or genre even. Whatever mood I am feeling while I am recording, that energy transfers into the vibe of the song and to the listener. I will always be diversified because I will always be in a different mental or emotional headspace when recording each time.
You both rap and produce: How do you go about creating a track?
What’s funny is I actually produce more beats than I write songs. I write songs every day and make beats almost every day as well. Like I said, practice makes perfect. This is why I do these things every day. Making beats is much easier to perfect than writing songs. See, with songs you have to relate to people with lyrics, pronounce things right, have the right flow, etc. When you make beats, it’s simply building the base for those lyrics and flow to sit on top of comfortably. As a writer and producer, you are the one that will perform on these beats, so you know what you want to hear every time.
Tell us about your album Loyalty: What was your concept or idea for this release?
The concept of Loyalty was that people around me were changing on me fast, and when I was writing this album. I had no friends left – only family and my family taught me that loyalty is very important, and remaining loyal to oneself in the midst of snakes is the best way to progress.
Loyalty seems to be focus 100% on Joey – no collaborations, which is common for a hip-hop release. What made you go this route?
I think my entire 2021 will be focused on me 100% and that’s why I gave it this title. It’s the beginning of a new era, me being loyal to myself and the music I want to make, instead of making what’s popularly demanded.
What comes next for you after this album?
I actually released my next album PROFESSIONAL on May 3rd. This album is 26 songs, also no features. I’m thinking of doing no features the entire year this year. I choose to do this because I want to prove that I can. And, it is easy for me to achieve. Soon, I will work on an album produced, mixed, and written entirely by me with no features, and I will direct and edit the videos as well. Again, just to show that I can.
Where would you like to see your career go in the next five years?
I think five years is too far ahead for anyone to think of. It becomes simply dreams, and yes follow your dreams, but I like to live in the now and experience my passions and chase happiness today. If I continue doing what I am doing, the only place I can see myself in the future is up.