On his latest project, Dangerous, Richmond-based artist and performer Trapcry explores his identity through experiments in genre and sampling, as well as his artistic predecessors and inspirations.
That’s one way to sum up the main themes of Dangerous, which Trapcry dropped Nov. 1, after starting to write songs for the project in 2017. The album is an exploration of queer identity, race, politics, sex, resistance, power — a sprawling endeavor with a depth and staying power much longer than its 53-minute runtime.
For Trapcry, making the album was a labor of love and an opportunity to infuse his identity into the project. He knows he can’t speak for Black women or Black trans people. But as a Black, queer artist, he was confident his experiences would be relatable to many people if he shared them.
“I’d be doing a disservice to myself if I’m not speaking out in my music, some type of way,” Trapcry said. “I wasn’t seeking political conversation. But it just started popping up, these themes of wanting to take ownership in my Black body that is so politicized right now.”
On Dangerous, the sexual and political are entwined — converging as Trapcry wrestles with forces of power in his life. Even with heavy themes such as these, Trapcry balances sincerity, concern, and anger with his infectious beats and unapologetic presentation.
“I want to take ownership of who I am,” Trapcry said. “I want to take ownership of my sexuality and my body. Nobody’s going to tell me what I can sing about, or how I want to be seen in images. I’m going to make all these decisions myself, and I don’t care what anybody else thinks.”
Claiming space is another key factor for Trapcry. The music industry tends to prioritize white artists in genres created by Black people, and Trapcry’s respect for his musical predecessors has inspired him to reclaim that territory. He talked about his admiration for other Black artists in Richmond, and his frustration with what he sees as the way the public-facing music scene tends to focus on white artists.
“There’s nobody out here that sounds like me,” Trapcry said. “Nobody’s doing this contemporary sound that I’m doing.”
Every track is different — something Trapcry aims for in a lot of his work. Club-inspired dance songs are paired with ballads. It’s part pop, part R&B, with bits of everything and samples from everywhere. The intertextual production pairs well with the multitude of themes Trapcry explores, preserving a sense of lively creativity even when the story gets serious.
“I really have a pet peeve in sounding the same, or making the same type of music over and over,” Trapcry said. “I like to explore everything… there were sounds that I didn’t include on this record that I really wanted to, but I don’t want to overwhelm everybody.”
Trapcry’s love for all kinds of artists who came before him is evident. In our interview, he mentions the Spice Girls, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Prince, Little Richard, Tracy Chapman, and Joni Mitchell, among others. To form a cohesive project on Dangerous, he had to weave different inspirations, motifs, and samples together.
The album feels like a personal endeavor as Trapcry reflects on the web of issues through layers of historical references, pop culture audio clips, catchy phrases, and earworm beats. It sounds like a peek into his brain, where pop divas and R&B legends argue about sex and romance, politics and liberation. In choosing to release it so close to the maelstrom that is the 2020 election, Trapcry connected it to the album’s purpose.
“I was like, this is it, this is kind of divine timing, I need to just go ahead and release it.” Trapcry said. “I feel like everything I’m talking about is really parallel to what is going on right now.”
Dangerous is a bold endeavor from an artist who isn’t shy about defying stereotypes, transcending genre, and staying true to himself. With a wealth of inspiration from the past and a sense of personal and political urgency in the present, Trapcry is breaking the ice. Are you listening?
All Photos via Trapcry