“Bitch, look at me: I’m a work of art”: Ideas to understand (better) the trap phenomenon | Culture

Although journalistic criticism and university professors have not always wanted to accept it, the genres (literary, musical, performative …) are constantly changing. In the case of music, the traditional patterns, ranging from pop to bachata, through rock, punk or reggaeton, have opened their borders and have spread through the new styles of the 21st century.

The Conversation

In this context, between the marginal and the canonical, from the slums to the millions of views on YouTube, the trap phenomenon seems to have become one of the most important movements on the current music scene. Its influence has spanned all cultural levels, being valued as a “street art” –the inheritance of rap– at the same time that it monopolizes minutes on television programs, magazine specials and, now, academic research.

The fusion of the trap

The trap has expanded the use of the creative word and has included audiovisual media within the culture of prestige. While more traditional figures like those of the singer-songwriters today aspire to legitimize themselves as artists and therefore resort to consecrated forms (poetry), the ragpicker does it as creator and he takes risks with experimental forms, low-cultural by convention, hybrid, repulsive. It is not about entrenching oneself in the unpleasant or marginal, but about renewing the vision of the artistic, overcoming the petrified structures. And thus advance at the same pace as technology, society and generations millennial and Z (we do not know where, but they advance).

Those new figures They also take advantage of the cultural ascent to revalue certain aspects of reality that differ from what is socially accepted. They reappropriate more “classic” styles, such as singer-songwriters, copleras or flamenco. But they always maintain a position that demonstrates both the artifice and the communicability of the activity. performative.

It might seem that La Zowi or Yung Beef are trivializing social problems. They say a lot “bitch” and “bitch”. They constantly sexualize and objectify women. They extol the marginal power of the street. C. Tangana and Rosalía appropriate the Hispanic elements (and Latin, incidentally: the eternal struggle for appropriationism remains open), sometimes without explicitly marking the stale machismo they hide or the cultural origin from which they take it. They are, arguably, the paradigm of the politically incorrect.

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However, in the whole of its performance, they submit precisely to that artificiality and base their “poetics” on ambiguity and an irony that gratifies the wishes of the spectator. Thus, they claim the artificial character not only of the words but also of the communicative situation of the “new” work of musical art: based on the contrast between eccentricity and understanding.

And this also transforms the attitude of the receiver. It forces us to place special emphasis on its effect, on its audience and its relationship with reality, since it makes the performance –In another time, a thing of extravagant artists and elitist art fairs that the average subject could not and was not interested in understanding– an element of our day to day life.

Between the crisis and the business

The superficial definition of the ragpicker phenomenon also hides an economic-social reading. Pure enjoyment, apparently depoliticized or even anti-progressive, insistence on perreo, the accumulation of common places and the sum of the new topoi The neighborhoods are a symptom of the desperation of the young Spanish generations (Ernesto Castro already spoke of the spirit of the 15M tired by the passing of the years) and in turn are an index of the serious problem that this desperation poses.

Undoubtedly, in the trap phenomenon there is something of marketing, but also something of avant-garde. There is a market and aesthetics, advertising and art. You have to sell yourself and get gold. This idea can be shocking to the more traditional minds. The work is no longer work, it is transmedia; and art is no longer art, it is fully mixed with mere storytelling.

In this way, we can define trap as a transmedia genre, performative and friend of the ironic and pluri-interpretation. These traits are not an original creation of the rags, far from it. Many readers may have thought of Andy Warhol (for example) while reading these lines. And they are right. But creativity is generally a matter of disposition and relationship.

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The rags have known how to radicalize and emphasize the existing media in the 21st century. They have played with the system and against the system. And thus they have achieved some of the most interesting reflections of recent times on reality and realism, the art of marketing and the autonomy of art, the twisted and hyperconscious use of already established cultural codes, experimentation and the constitution of a figure. distinctive authorial, identity and Spanish …

But those are topics of another article. For now let’s take some time to enjoy and analyze with Cecilio G’s memes, the contrived interviews with C. Tangana and the ambiguous way of understanding the art of (our Kanye West and Kim Kardashian) Yung Beef and La Zowi. We just need to give them the benefit of the aesthetic doubt. “I have all the tricks to cajole you. Bitch, look at me: I am a work of art ”.The Conversation

Laro del Río Castañeda, Predoctoral Researcher in Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, Oviedo University and Guillermo Sánchez Ungido, Predoctoral Researcher in Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, Oviedo University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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