Mouse Trap: A Digital Companion

Downtown Orlando from I-4 East

Downtown Orlando from I-4 East

Mouse Trap: An Analysis of Orlando’s Hip Hop Scene is the title of the of the final research project in Africa and African-American Studies minor by Alex Fang at Rollins College. As such, this project places an emphasis on understanding the African Diaspora experience rooted in the local community circumstance. In the case of “Mouse Trap,” Orlando’s hip-hop community is the focal point. Despite the lack of financially sustainable avenues for their art, Orlando rappers are prolific in their releases. This playlist is not the best of Orlando hip-hop. Rather, it is a small sampling of Orlando artists that exemplifies  “trap” hip-hop  in the city. 

This short playlist provides a window in how Orlando’s urban community responds to some of the shortcomings of their city and how some of that frustration is communicated through the urban ethnographic aspects of hip-hop. It is important to note that these songs focus more on the urban experience than the African-American experience, particularly in white rapper Caskey’s songs (Cash Money Records).

Caskey

Caskey

“StayWitMe” and “Meant to Be” are two of Caskey’s most recent releases from his Black Sheep 2 and Black Sheep 3 mixtapes respectively. Both tracks demonstrate the Orlando trap sound of heavy bass and syncopated drum samples. “StayWitMe” references Downtown Orlando and argues Caskey’s prominence as a burgeoning Orlando rapper further illustrating how many trap artists rely on their artistry to help them escape the plight of poverty. Subsequently, “Meant to Be” makes many references to Orlando crime and the goal of escaping the city.

Zendel

Zendel

Zendel’s “Stalker” is another example of Orlando’s trap sound particularly in the sporadic ad-libbed vocals and harsh keyboard motifs. Lyrically, Zendel sees Orlando’s gangs and violence as a war and calls upon others to help him fight against.

Woop

Woop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likewise, in Woop’s “Meat Store,” he details how drugs, violence, and poverty define his neighborhood. Notably, the line, “All we know is warfare and bullet holes” shows how some Orlando citizens view their homes and communities. A-Wun takes a more positive outlook on the urban experience. In “Break It Down,” he optimistically hopes that his own talents and abilities will permeate the impoverished condition as he is “chasing dreams.” In his narration, he hopes he and his friends will eventually be financially successful and sustainable. In his work, A-Wun utilizes the somewhat antiquated notion of the American Dream as faith that hard work will result in success.

Ralph Deem

Ralph Deem

Lastly, Ralph Deem’s “Milk x Karpe Di3m” is an overview of Orlando’s trap scene both from a musical and narcotic perspective. Throughout the song, he explains how East Orlando traps and how that is necessary for survival. These songs approach Orlando trap from different angles but are all united sonically and thematically. Whether they are displeased in poverty or optimistic that hard work and determination will eradicate their condition, these artists are clearly indicating the shortcomings of Orlando and their communities.