While critically maligned during its heyday at the end of the ’00s, Atlanta snap rap has always been fun and remains influential today. Musically stripped-back, with vast separations between the bass, midrange (the raps), and treble (the repetitive keyboard figures), the music sounds gigantic in the club because of all the space in the mix. It’s slow yet steady, topping out at 80 beats per minute. You can dance to it by doing a simple or complex lean-back, coupled with a snap of the fingers.
The definitive snap hit is “Laffy Taffy” by D4L (pictured). Everything else is tied for second place. Many snap anthems—like BHI, Lil Jon, and K-Rab’s 2006 cut “Do It, Do It (Poole Palace)”—have actual fingersnaps in the song, and eventually the style’s sound bled into R&B when T-Pain adopted it and, to a lesser degree, The-Dream. If you have to pin it to a place, it’s an Atlanta thing, but Mississippi and Compton have made crucial contributions with David Banner’s “Play” and Quik & The Fixxers’ “Can U Werk Wit Dat,” respectively. The most creative envisioning of the music was done by Soulja Boy, who basically invented viral dance videos with his “Crank Dat,” the template for up-and-coming stars like Ayo & Teo (Soulja Boy was a product of the YouTube era; Ayo & Teo are Instagram stars).
Snap rap prioritizes dancing and downplays lyrical intellectualism, and while it isn’t the first rap subgenre to embrace those concepts, it has a strong following who have set a new norm. Modern-day adherents include Young Thug and Future, Atlantans whose music has the same tempo, and DJ Mustard, whose music is faster but still has that snap feel. In the big picture, snap is another point in the ongoing hip-hop conversation between the South and the West, without any comment from New York City. Look at California’s hyphy and jerk music and Atlanta’s crunk and snap music: It’s all part of the same swirl. New York has turned up its nose the whole time.