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BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: DJ Toomp

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#13 – DJ Toomp

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

DJ Toomp. The main pioneer of trap music.

Unlike the chopped-and-screwed style, which was created by DJ Screw, the creation of trap music maybe can’t be attributed to a single person. That being said, however, DJ Toomp does deserve recognition for being the beatmaker who first popularized trap.

Before going further, it’s important to appropriately look at what trap music is. For many beatmakers, particularly those who steadfastly support boom bap or east coast production (at the detriment of anything else), trap music is nothing more than a lazy, thoughtless, tinker-bell style and sound of music. I’ve never looked at trap music in this way. While I may not like some off-shoots of trap (I also don’t like everything east coast or boom bap), I respect trap music for being distinct and popular style and sound. Moreover, the really good trap music is dope! (No pun intended). Trap music didn’t emerge as the stepchild of east and west coast negligence. On the contrary, music makers in the south simply wanted to make music that was distinctly theirs. If you listen to most southern rappers from the late 1980s and early 1990s, you will notice how much they sound (or are trying to sound) like New York rappers. That all changed dramatically with trap music.

Around the mid-1990s, hip hop/rap in the south started becoming more reflective of it’s own sonic heritage, particularly the shadow of the might bass music of Miami, Florida. In other words, the distinct southern hip hop/rap sound that blossomed was not a disrespectful knock against hip hop/rap’s roots, but instead, just one region’s quest to reclaim its own roots and to export its own customs and slang. One important feature of Hip hop/rap music is that it has always served as medium for people sharing their hood on their terms. In this way, trap music provided a new, homegrown soundscape for a region of music makers looking to showcase their own identity at a time with the music industry was only looking east or west. Thus, when examining trap music, it’s best not only to explore it on its own terms, but also from the vantage point that it its one region’s legitimate sound.

That said, an examination of Toomp’s catalog is a perfect MusicStudy for beatmakers, not only because it’s a clinic on the high quality kind of trap music but also precisely because you can hear exactly how his style and sound changed, particularly between 1997 and 2001, when he and T.I. put trap music on the map. Unlike DJ Paul and Juicy J’s sound ca. 1997, Toomp’s style and sound in 1997 was definitively bass music with a clear electro funk undertone. But what was also present already in 1997 was the way in which Toomp likes to embellishment his arrangements. Listen to “Giddy Up Let’s Ride” (Lil’ Jon & The East Side Boyz), and you can hear the kind of synth frameworks and general orchestration that would come to personify the DJ Toomp sound.

Toomp’s sound is never your garden variety trap music. As a student of the beatmaking tradition, Toomp built his style and sound by incorporating elements of all the styles and sounds that influenced him early on. In fact, on a Toomp track it’s not odd to hear different styles sounds meshed together into one, with echo and force of bass music always woven prominently into the groove. Indeed, it’s testament to Toomp that his sound is both enjoyable, broad, distinct, and, like it or not, great strip club music. Another element of Toomp’s sound is his drums. Toomp’s drums have the southern bounce of course, they also tend to punch with an aggression that you don’t typically find on other run-of-the-mill trap tracks. Wait, maybe Toomp can lay claim to being the inventor of trap music… (For a very comprehensive understanding of DJ Toomp and his music, I highly recommend reading my interview with him in The BeatTips Manual.)

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

DJ Toomp Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:

SPECIAL NOTE: Listen for the Toomp’s signature sounds (e.g. ride and thick 808 snare) that appear in many of his beats.

“Be Easy” – T.I. beat by DJ Toomp

“I Luv It” – Young Jeezy beat by DJ Toomp

“Do It” – T.I. beat by DJ Toomp

“Giddy Up Let’s Ride” – Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz beat by DJ Toomp

“U Don’t Know Me” – T. I. beat by DJ Toomp

“Say Hello” – Jay-Z beat by DJ Toomp

“Dope Boyz” – T.I. beat by DJ Toomp

“Can’t Tell Me Noting” – Kanye West beat by DJ Toomp

“White House” – Rick Ross beat by DJ Toomp

“Big Brother” – Kanye West beat by DJ Toomp

“Trap Back Jumpin’ beat by DJ Toomp

“Bandits” – Jim Crow beat by DJ Toomp

“House of Pain” – Game beat by DJ Toomp

“Heavy Chevys” – T.I. beat by DJ Toomp

“N.I.G.G.E.R (The Slave and the Master)” – Nas beat by DJ Toomp

“Bankhead” – T.I. feat. PSC and Young Dro beat by DJ Toomp

“24’s” – T.I. beat by DJ Toomp

“Ridin’ Big” – Pastor Troy beat by DJ Toomp

“56 Barz” – T.I. feat by DJ Toomp

“Good Life” – Kanye West feat. T Pain beat by DJ Toomp

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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual