You might think karaoke is limited to cheap bars with crackling sound systems and slow Tuesday nights, but things are changing. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is starting to feel out of touch 25 years after its revival in Wayne's World. N'Sync and Britney covers stopped being cute and ironic long before they became just sad. And, hey, except for board games, karaoke is the whitest way to pass time at a bar.
So it's no surprise that Trap Karaoke is making its way to more cities.
The concept is simple: Create a user-generated experience in a concert setting with music that's playing on the radio right now. Throw in alcohol and the chance of celebrity appearances, and you have every hip-hop fan's karaoke hope, concert wet dream, and driver-seat Snapchat rehearsal rolled into the no-holds-barred expectations of a nightclub. As seen on the Trap Karaoke website: "The result? A platform on top of music; a backdrop for life; a nexus into cultural participation, personal empowerment, cherished moments, human connection, and community!"
In an interview with New Times sister paper Houston Press, Trap Karaoke founder Jason Mowatt likens the experience to going to church, while proclaiming at every opportunity that "we're not party promoters; we're community organizers." An apt example of this sentiment can be found on the company's Instagram page. A post from February 2016 shows a concerned individual thinking there's more money in marketing to white kids in fraternities and sororities. The caption simply reads, "Nah we good lol."
In a world where black consumers are often erased (see Shea Moisture) and artists like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus adopt and discard black culture at will, that simple refusal is radical.
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Then there's the music itself, which exists in an industry that isolates its listeners by pricing concert tickets out of their range: Tickets for Kendrick Lamar's show in September started at $75, and Rolling Loud tickets reached nearly $400. By comparison, Trap Karaoke costs $20 to $40.
But whatever Zeitgeist the company follows, the community is ultimately created not through marketing or social media, but by the people who show up to perform whatever songs they choose in their city. The crowd at the Hangar should be able to rap "Red Bottoms" backward and forward because this Friday's Trap Karaoke event will be in Trina's city. Beyond getting the chance to stunt on a Rick Ross, Zoey Dollaz, Drake, or Future track in front of 500 chanting partiers, people will be there to celebrate what they love.
This is why a deceptively simple party is catching on. In a time when "community" is so often about what is sold to us based on what we're told is important, Trap Karaoke simply asks us to show up and do it ourselves.
8 p.m. Friday, May 26, at the Hangar, 60 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets are sold out, but, hey, show up anyway: Who's gonna stop you from singing on the street?