As Pop Music Embraces Música Urbana, American Trap Keeps Its Distance

Latin and American trap has been slow to get in bed together.
Lil Pump and Bad Bunny
Lil Pump and Bad Bunny perform in Miami. Photo credit: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Trap music dominates in rap right now, regardless of language, and each month Cultura explores the Latin side of hip-hop's hottest sound.

If you want to know what your favorite rapper has up next, check their Instagram feed.

Case in point, the other week Lil Pump shared a brief video of him hanging with Anuel AA, prompting speculation that a collaborative track between the two Latinx hip-hop artists could be on the way. Having dropped his previously delayed, grammatically upsetting Harverd Dropout album only last month, the brash Miami native was also joined in the clip by Carlos “Spiff TV” Suarez, known for his DJ Khaled-esque “Thinkin,” an oddly overlooked 2018 single with Bad Bunny, Future, and Anuel, as well as on cuts by urbano acts like Jory Boy and Prince Royce. Further scanning of the urbano Instagram universe uncovered the potential involvement of DJ Luian, the Latin trap impresario with credits on recent hits like Bad Bunny’s “MIA” with Drake and Anuel’s “Bubalu” with Becky G and Prince Royce.


Given his prior pairings with English-language rappers like 6ix9ine, Meek Mill, and Nicki Minaj, the prospect of Anuel working on a feature alongside Pump certainly comes as no surprise. Commercially successful with two concurrent singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Secreto” with Karol G, he’s one of the hottest urbano acts of the moment. That said, it does raise some questions about why, almost a full year after the debut of Cardi B’s “I Like It” with Bad Bunny and J Balvin, the English-language trap scene has yet to reconcile with its Spanish-language equivalent.

Apart from 21 Savage’s fleeting appearance on Farruko’s first “Krippy Kush” remix and the aforementioned “Thinkin,” you’d be hard pressed to find top Atlanta rappers teaming up with similarly feted hitmakers out of Puerto Rico and Colombia. Same goes for the heavy hitters in Memphis, grinding out some of the hardest mixtapes in the game yet overlooking the traperos hustling alongside their shared plugs. Even if you count the J Balvin feature on Metro Boomin’s Not All Heroes Wear Capes with Migos’s Offset and Afrobeats hitmaker Wizkid, which sported a beat very much removed from the trap aesthetic, the pickings are maddeningly slim.

However, the prospects for partnership remain, to borrow from Future’s lexicon, sensational. A fan can only dream of collabs like Bryant Myers with Yo Gotti, Peewee Longway with Miky Woodz, or Quavo with Noriel. Given their respective notorious upending of gender norms and hip-hop norms alike, it seems inconceivable that Bad Bunny and Young Thug have yet to hop on a track together. Even Anuel, whose profile soared off his Hot 100 charting 6ix9ine pairings, can’t seem to bridge the gap between the southern trap scene and his own.


The utter failure to reconcile these parallel movements defies logic and denies destiny, a situation made ever more maddening as pop stars and their producers both stateside and elsewhere have come to embrace urbano acts in such a tremendous way. After the unlikely pairing of Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber made “Despacito” the biggest hit single of the 2010s, we’ve seen numerous hits come out of what used to be called crossover. While that terminology no longer seems adequate to describe Latin music’s extraordinary growth in the U.S. pop market, singles like DJ Snake’s “Taki Taki” and Benny Blanco and Tainy’s “I Can’t Get Enough” have accomplished a great deal by embracing bilinguality.

In context, it seems downright ludicrous that we got Enrique Iglesias on a Latin trap beat before Migos. From a top level view, there are artists on both sides of this artificial trap divide signed to the same major label groups, suggesting that institutional barriers set by industry gatekeepers and cross-functional siloing at these companies keep them unreasonably apart. Ultimately, someone young and ambitious like Lil Pump stands to eat off of the plates of those too set in their ways to realize the feast set in front of them. One way or another, these genres will come together soon enough, but it may end up leaving some stubborn types far behind. And sure enough, over the weekend, Anuel posted a pic of him on his Instagram feed alongside Gucci Mane, suggesting that we may finally get the unity that trap needs.


Los Favoritos Del Mes:

Eladio Carrión, Amenazzy, Rauw Alejandro, and Noriel - Se Moja

On this, another impeccable cut from the surging Rimas Music imprint, four traperos pay homage to the baddest bitches in their respective lives.

Kapuchino - Eran De Lo Mio

Fresh off his New York centric “Porque Será” remix with Lito Kirino and Messiah, the Dominican-American spitter reflects on those who are, and aren’t, in his corner.

Menor Menor - Sigo Aquí

Surprisingly absent from his more-or-less simultaneously released debut album, this one-off from Carbon Fiber Music’s Honduran hitter takes a well deserved look at his place in the Latin trap movement.

Omy De Oro and Jory Boy - No Es Real

Well positioned in the prevailing wave of R&B-tinged Latin trap, the Puerto Rican duo deliver an exemplary single with plenty of promise.

Pusho featuring Myke Towers, Alex Rose, and Lyanno - No Aguanto

In stark contrast to the masked truck heist of its music video, this especially raunchy cut from a quartet of singing traperos has only carnal interests at stake.