Trapcry’s “Dangerous” Influences Playlist
Ahead of the double-LP reissue of his Dangerous LP, Gene Thompson breaks down what he was listening to when each track from the album was written.
If Trapcry’s second record Dangerous sounds like it covers an unusually broad amount of sounds, that may be because the the project saw the Richmond-based artist firmly repping his identity as a queer Black man during a particualarly turbulent period in American life concluding with a global pandemic and the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. In firm opposition to a lot of the music that got penned over this period, though, Dangerous is most decisively glued together by a sense of pride weaving in and out of its colorful track list, emboldening songs worthy of voguing, twerking, and hitching a ride in fast cars.
The other, less complex reasoning for the variety of sounds on the record was simply that Gene Thompson’s taste extends far beyond what we can hear on the record—while tracks like “Capone” and “Goku Thee Stallion” clearly have their roots in the period of hip-hop spanning from Lil’ Kim’s reign to that of Megan, and “Gettaway” has Tracy Chapman written all over it, elsewhere on the record Trapcry taps into some less-expected influences, citing Emerson, Lake & Palmer (a group which even inspired him to get some ink of the band’s logo, he notes) on the thumping, prog-organ-backed “Bad 4 U.”
With the record soon to be seeing a double-vinyl re-release via Quiet Year, Thompson took the time to break down his influences on each track. You can pre-order the album here, and scroll down to read through his descriptions for each track included on the influences playlist he threw together for us.
JAY-Z, “Song Cry”
Because JAY-Z is the GOAT, I wanted to open up Dangerous with a tribute to him in my own authentic way. I felt like it was a track I could hear him on, but it’s obviously from a gay perspective.
Mobb Deep, “Get Away”
I love how Havoc and Prodigy go back and forth with a call and response for the sample on this track. It’s one of my favorite classic hip-hop songs, and I wanted something that felt like this.
Britney Spears, “Early Mornin”
I initially wrote “Retaliate” and it sounded something like a Future song. Then as I dove more into classic boom-bap hip-hop, I wanted to do something more like Madonna’s “Human Nature” with a Gwen Stefani presence, if that makes sense? But it wasn’t until after I recorded the song that I realized it sounded like Britney’s “Early Mornin”—listening to the playlist, it fits right in like a glove.
Lil’ Kim, “Queen B*tch”
Missy Elliott, “Throw It Back”
Honestly the song that truly inspired this song was my own song, “Goku Thee Stallion.” I wanted a sequel, but I feel like most rap songs I do like this are approached with Lil’ Kim’s “Queen B*tch” in mind. Her vocal and lyrical prowess are top-tier on it. The attitude. The style. One of the top rap records ever recorded. Missy Elliott’s “Throw It Back” came out around the time I recorded it, so I definitely unconsciously added parts with her flow from that song.
Azealia Banks, “Wallace”
Something about the drums and Azealia’s vocal cadence had me wanting to do something similar: a minimal track with my voice floating over it. The way this song ends with the dog sounds inspired a bulk of this part of the album.
Odetta, “Hit or Miss”
I mostly was going for a gritty Justin Timberlake “SexyBack” type of sound, but I came across this song on shuffle and the message more so stuck with me: being authentic to yourself no matter the success you receive. Odetta’s raw delivery is what I wanted for myself.
“Break the Ice”
Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation”
This song and album is what I wanted Dangerous to feel like. This is an anthem with so much power, and I felt it was time to reincarnate that type of energy. I wanted to promote social messages that felt relative to myself and the people that support me.
“Bad 4 U”
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “From the Beginning”
I first learned about this song from another singer, Amerie. She sampled it on her first album that was one of my favorite 2002 releases. In my adult life, the song had become such a staple that I got a tattoo of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s logo on my arm. There’s a vibe on here that I felt compelled to match somehow, and although I didn’t, I came up with something else in my own way.
Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car”
As a Black person, I feel the best reference in talking about my own struggles and struggles I’ve seen is Tracy Chapman. I wanted to create something that was a good mix between this song and “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.” I listened to both of those songs as the 2020 presidential election came closer, and it made me want to reach out to others who may have felt overwhelmed by all of the news and coverage. I wanted to write something that everyone could sing and feel connected to in the same way Tracy has been doing for years.
“Man in This Town”
Madonna, “La Isla Bonita”
Shakira, “Men in This Town”
Lady Gaga, “Heavy Metal Lover”
I wanted something tropical, beautiful, with a powerful, big hook. I found a way to incorporate the feel of all three of these tracks to express how lonely I was feeling during quarantine in spring of 2020.
Madonna, “Get Together”
A lot of my music is inspired by Janet and Madonna. I can’t think of anything more dance-essential than Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor. I think this album and song inspire most of my dance music. I wanted something with big pads, chord progressions, and a minimal vocal vibe, so this is definitely where I went to reference my song “Burn.”
Ciara feat. Missy Elliott, “Work”
I love how Ciara approaches some of her dance music. This song has some house and Baltimore club elements that I love. I wanted to explore the energy of this more in my own sexual way.
“Goku Thee Stallion”
Megan Thee Stallion, “Sex Talk”
Really the song that inspired this was “Cash Shit,” but I refuse to give the artist featured on Megan’s song any praise. I love Megan, and so originally “Goku” was a demo for her. “Sex Talk” is pretty similar and kind of reminds me of Missy’s early music. I just love how the drums hit and her vocals are sexy as hell but still in-your-face.
JAY1, “Mocking It”
These two songs and David Banner’s “Play” were what I was listening to a lot when making this song. I wanted something chanty, fun, and sexy. Kelis is my go-to when it comes to catchy urban anthems. I also wanted to experiment with U.K. rap, so I incorporated a little of a JAY1 vibe.
“Alright” and “Damages”
Cardi B, “Bodak Yellow”
These two songs came out back to back, and while I was recording them, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” was impacting. So I think at the time I was writing as if they were demos for her, but I ended up staying true to me.