I experienced my first Trap Karaoke last weekend, and I survived. I woke up the next morning with half my body sore and my ears still ringing, but I survived. I had seen the footage. Heard the social media buzz. My friends raved about it. Apparently, Trap Karaoke wasn’t just a party. Apparently, this new event series was one that I couldn’t afford to miss.
What better way to start my Broccoli City and Views From The Grits weekend in Washington, D.C.? In retrospect, I was right, but I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just seemed different about the vibe I got from hearing people talk about it.
I quickly realized one important thing: Trap Karaoke isn’t a run of the mill event concept, it’s a well thought out, thoroughly planned experience that breaks people out of their bubbles. I arrived early and watched Trap Karaoke founder Jason Mowatt running around the venue to ensure that all the lighting, props, and backstage setup was laid out perfectly to fit his vision.
Within fifteen minutes of actually being in the venue, I had a cup full of Hennessy and lemonade in my hand and I was talking to friends while Austin Millz played songs that reminded me of my late college days. My cup remained full for the night’s duration, largely due to circumstances out of my control.
As attendees filtered into top floor of Blind Whino they were greeted by the sounds of Austin Millz playing classic anthems, the Trap Karaoke logo glowing on a projector screen, and a free shot to get the night started.
Before we knew it, the festivities got started. The host for the night, Lowkey, filled us in on the rules and the goals. Each person who took the stage was given a specific mission: move the crowd. Whether they came up by themselves, with a partner, or with their whole crew, each performer took a shot and started to recite the lyrics to the song they selected.
Songs including Kanye West’s “Father, Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” Gucci Mane’s “Freaky Girl,” Outkast and UGK’s “Int’l Player’s Anthem,” Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up,” and T.I.’s “24’s” were among some of the songs that were chanted by the hundreds of people in attendance..
Some performers got the exhilarating feel of leading a crowd of onlookers in the recital of a favorite song. This was their opportunity to be the rock star they’d always imagined themselves as. Others received a more lukewarm reception, but still survived the song. Some were unfortunate enough to get booed off stage. The most interesting and exhilarating performance of the night came from a young fellow who damn near got booed off the stage during the first thirty seconds of his “Worst Behavior” performance.
Lowkey moved in to snatch the mic from him, but he refused to quit. He endured the boos and didn’t seem to lack any confidence, despite the negative reaction. In fact, he kept his energy so high that he actually managed to do the damn near impossible – turn overwhelming boos into enthusiastic support. By the time his song was over, he got the most applause out of almost anyone who performed that night and a special shout out from Lowkey; a fitting reward for Harlem shaking through the pressure.
The legendary Young Guru, known for his engineering and production work with the likes of Jay Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ludacris, and more, took over DJing duties for a bit to give us some of the go-go flavor he picked up on during the time he spent DJing in the nation’s capital. We even had a surprise appearance by a man who may or may not have been the President of the United States, who led us in a recital of the national anthem. No, not that one. “March Madness,” of course.
There’s something to be said for the power of Trap Karaoke. The holistic experience creates a sense of unification, as we hear the songs we’ve chanted at parties and rapped in our cars while packed into a theatrically lit venue. The bass hits each and every person’s chest the same way as we scream Pimp C’s “Int’l Player’s Anthem” verse for the whole world to hear. Trap Karaoke not only gives friends a unique experience to enjoy together; it also facilitates new friendships by making us remember that we have a lot more in common than we think.
All photography courtesy of Flash Frequency.