RL Grime & Salva
El Rey Theatre

The divide between electronic music and rap has been shrinking. Many electronic artists are producing rap influenced beats (see the recent work of DJ Rashad) and rappers are showing off their verbal dexterity over electronic production (see Danny Brown). Last night at the El Rey Theatre, swiftly rising DJs/producers RL Grime and Salva pushed things even further.

As L.A.'s fashionably late filled the room, DJs from L.A. based electronic music collective WeDidIt – RL Grime and Salva are affiliates – opened with solid performances. At times, the music hewed more towards electronic R&B. Unltimately, it was the quiet storm before torrents of thundering trap.

See also: What the Hell Is Trap Music?
Trap, as we know it today, blends hard, southern hip-hop beats and EDM – often including heavy 808 drums, skittering hi-hats, and layered synths. Some argue this nascent sub-genre has no connection with the original trap-rap, popularized by hard-boiled Southern rappers last decade. Last night brought the debate into focus.  

Salva; Credit: Max Bell

Salva; Credit: Max Bell

Chicago bred Salva next took to the turntables. Given his recent Friday night jump-off mix for Power 106, he unsurprisingly worked in songs from their playlist, like Ty Dolla $ign's “Paranoid,” Sage the Gemini's “Gas Pedal,” Rich Homie Quan's “Some Type of Way,” and Salva's remix of Problem's “Like Whaat.” The crowd knew all of them.

It was Salva's “Drop that B” (Odd Furniture EP) that really got the bouncing crowd going. Composed almost entirely of hydraulic car sounds, “Drop that B” also combines trap with bits of Eazy-E's “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” It's a near perfect synthesis between electronic and rap music.

Throughout, he also seamlessly mixed in Miami bass, Chicago house, reggae, and more. Regardless of how you define his music, there can be no doubt of his talent.

….after his set the lights were brought up, revealing bros clad in tank tops (some with no shirts at all) and their female counterparts in cut offs. Should it bother us that surely those twerking and grinding to TWRK's “Nolia” had never heard New Orleans rap group UTP's “Nolia Clap”? 

In any case, RL Grime immediately ramped up the crowd again. With a crazy light display and well executed build up, it felt like tectonic plates shifted when the first beat dropped.

RL Grime; Credit: Max Bell

RL Grime; Credit: Max Bell

The man also known as Clockwork tempered emerging standards like TNGHT's “Higher Ground” with his remixes of Rihanna's “Pour it Up” and Benny Benassi's “Satisfaction.” He also threw in the banging, laser-synth laden “Pockets” from his Higher Beams EP, which kept heads nodding.

He also spun a significant dose of actual trap rap, working in songs such as Migos “Hannah Montana” and Meek Mill's “House Party.” Danny Brown's “Dope Song” was the clear standout.

Although Grime was the most active and engaging performer of the night, there were a few noticeable repeats (i.e. “Nolia” and DJ Snake's remix of “Turn Down for What”). Still, the audience seemed even more excited to hear them a second time around.

RL Grime ended his set with his remix of Chief Keef's “Love Sosa,” motioning like an archer shooting an arrow when the beat dropped. After the lights went down, the crowd screamed for one more song. Grime obliged, throwing on rapper A$AP Ferg's “Shabba Ranks” as he bounced across the stage and sprayed water at the sweat soaked audience. 

RL Grime; Credit: Max Bell

RL Grime; Credit: Max Bell

In the end, we decided that it doesn't matter if RL Grime brought the bros “Love Sosa.” Some will check out the original and become lifelong rap fans. Others will become more open to electronic music because of Salva's remix of Problem's “Like Whaat.”

In a recent interview with Resident Advisor, Salva said, “[A]ll the stuff that's big and poppin' right now was made six months or a year ago. I think the cycle is going to continue and probably faster than it ever has before.” If trap continues its rise to the radio, it will probably go the way of dubstep.

For now, it's an undeniably visceral, physically punishing listening experience that's bringing two genres together. And whatever's next, one suspects RL Grime, Salva, and the folks at WeDidIt will be at the forefront.

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