The Sound: ATL Trap

From reflections on sample manipulation methods and studio discoveries to the stories behind genre-defining sounds, The Sound is an exploration into the creative process of today’s innovative artists.

Over the past decade, trap music has grown to become one of the most influential and culturally relevant movements in music today. Taking cues from southern rap and characterized by its booming 808s and rolling hi-hats, trap originally gained momentum in Atlanta and has gone on to shape the sound of modern hip-hop, electronic and pop music.

To kick off this series, we’re paying tribute to Atlanta trap with a week long takeover, featuring producer-curated sample packs, contests, and interviews with the leading voices in hip hop.

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the specific production techniques that give Atlanta trap its signature flavor.

The Elements

Triplet hats and flows

The origins of the notorious “triplet flow” remain hotly debated: while Migos are widely credited with popularizing this delivery in the context of modern Atlanta trap and pop rap, others have pointed out that Memphis legend Lord Infamous of Three Six Mafia (among other artists like Bone Thugs N’ Harmony) coined the technique first. Whatever the case, delivering lines in a triplet pattern is now a staple technique of Atlanta trap.

It’s also unclear who used triplet hi-hats in a super-fast roll pattern in their beats first, but this percussion technique has been ubiquitous for years. Although “rattling, trap-influenced high hats” have become the norm in today’s hits, they remain loved by Atlanta trap artists and enthusiasts.

808 bass

Trap music is characterized by big, bad bass sounds that stem from the legendary 808 kick. Over time, 808 became a catch-all term for any long, subby bass drum synth sound. As producers traded samples and kits, their 808 samples became more distorted, edited, and compressed, with some growing to be almost unrecognizable from the original’s clean sub-bass sound. No matter how distorted or edited, though, it wouldn’t be an Atlanta trap instrumental without some serious trunk-shaking bass.


Trap music is so characterized by 808 subs and quick hats that synths, the last element, are often considered an afterthought. However, as this music is supposed to be intense, eerie and otherworldly synth sounds are just as important to the genre as the iconic percussion. Filtered, minor-key synths buried deep in the mix set the mood for vocalists to match and are a sonic representation of the places where trap music originated.


In this week’s Firestarter we want to help you make the best trap you can. Use these elements of Atlanta trap and the project we’ve made for you to get started. As a bonus, we’ll let you know a little secret…

Splice is teaming up with Sonny Digital later this week to host a beat-making contest using samples from his artist pack.

Grab Sonny’s samples now and use this Firestarter to get a leg up on the competition when the official contest kicks off.

March 26, 2018

Max Rewak Max Rewak is a record producer, audio engineer, and music writer, based in New York and currently working in Sounds content at Splice.