FemTrap: La Voz de la Mujer en el Trap Hispanohablante

In the discourse of female empowerment and women’s rights, trap music is maybe not the go-to argument you’d bring to the table. More often than not, it perpetuates misogynistic attitudes, defiling female sexuality via a male-dominated lyrical platform featuring a plethora of derogatory terms - ho and puta being the ringleaders here - and a lot of fallacio. To say the least, it’s got a bad rep. It ain’t very “feminist.” I, personally, envy tf out of the girls in trap music videos. They look like they’re having a badass time, twerking on race cars and counting stacks. I don’t think this is the aspect of trap we should be deeming anti-feminist. I believe in a world where a strong female figure can be CEO, a stay-at-home mom, a super ho, or all of the above, as long as she owns it.

However, I can agree that trap is a sexist genre in the sense that there aren’t a lot of women in the game being recognized for their talent. For the most part, it’s gone unnoticed that the perception many traptístas are bringing to the genre is as sexy as it is self-empowering. We’re living in a kind of gray area when it comes to defining what self-empowerment is to women, so this is definitely a topic worth debating, but as far as reappropriating slurs goes and exploring aspects of power typically thought to be reserved for men, the women of the Hispanic trap movement are getting it done. In a conference given by Sofia Maldonado, renowned muralist and UPRM professor, these topics were employed to introduce students to her ongoing discourse and artistic platform, FemTrap, discussing the various cultural perspectives within trap music.

Just to give you some context, trap music originated in Atlanta, Georgia, but with the internet functioning as a catalyzer, it’s become an international movement. It goes hand in hand with reggaetón, which has boosted its popularity in the Caribbean. Nonetheless, in most of Europe, it’s still part of the underground scene, supposedly reserved for la sottocultura, riff-raff, and chusma. HOWEVER, that hasn’t stopped these queens from capitalizing on their YouTube fame, keeping their lyrics explicit, and infiltrating the fashion world. In Spain, “el trap es el género musical de moda."

La Zowi; photo by Teddy Iborra Wicksteed

 

Of course, cultural context is important, not only in the comprehension of the traptístas’ lyrical content, but also in their attitudes. In “Mi Chulo” by La Zowi, Spanish trap icon and self-proclaimed raxet, she openly acknowledges her man is with another jeva, but she’s not jellin’. She’s too self-confident to stress about that. In Bonnie N Clyde, the Chilean reina del neoreggaetón, Tomasa del Real, threatens to go crazy when her man looks at other women, “pero no es de celosa,” she just wants to have a threesome.

Tomasa del Real; photo by Rod Photography

 

You don’t usually hear that kind of attitude in the Caribbean, especially in Puerto Rico, where the feminist movement hasn’t quite picked up with the same tenacity as in other latin countries. The dynamic between artists and the position they assume over their persona, their bodies, and sexuality are a reflection of a more moderate, pop culture feminism. Audri Nix, una boricua babe absoluta, encapsulates this kind of empowerment, yet essentially sticks to lyrical themes that are expected of women: love and sensuality. In her most recent release, “Más," you can see how her ambition has grown as she reaches a wider fanbase. She’s definitely not as vulgar as the other traptístas, but she’s definitely tuning in with the anti-conformista vibes.

Audrey Nix; photo by Rafael Clemente

 

Some might think this is the “right way” to be a feminist, but hell, we’ve spent decades listening - and turning tf up! - to reggaetoneros that get the majority of their content from objectifying women. So… what if women start objectifying themselves? What if we start objectifying men? It suddenly doesn’t seem as degrading. By taking away the power from a word, concept or construct, self-empowerment manifests.