Through a combination of spine-chilling instrumentals, haunting melodies and gruesome subject matters, dark trap music is an essential part of setting the Halloween mood. For both rappers and producers, creating a sinister atmosphere is one of the most effective ways to have a palpable emotional impact on the listener. Dark trap music leaves the listener feeling unsettled, grimy and, at times, malevolent. It can transform the listener from someone who is peacefully reading a book to someone who wants to stand up, protect themselves against evil spirits and begin plotting against their nonexistent enemies. Artists such as Metro Boomin, 21 Savage and Travis Scott have devoted large portions of their careers to innovating within this subgenre and developing creative ways to fully take advantage of its versatile sound. Therefore, in order to create a soundtrack for one’s trap and trick-or-treating fusion this October, here is a five-song preview to a playlist with the best 100 songs to capture this menacing and evil atmosphere.
“Nightmare” by Metro Boomin and Offset
Released on Halloween in 2017, there is no hip-hop album that has perfected the dark, frightening atmosphere better than Metro Boomin, Offset and 21 Savage’s collaborative record, “Without Warning.” Metro Boomin, one of the most innovative and talented producers in all of music, has single-handedly revolutionized the entire sound of dark trap music through albums such as this. “Nightmare” opens with a menacing bell melody, akin to the musical box of a possessed child in a horror movie, surrounded by the howls of wolves in the background. As always, Offset’s flow on this record is masterful, complimenting the song’s moody production with energetic rapping and hostile lyrics that fit the horrifying theme. To top it all off, he evokes one of the most disturbing horror movie characters of all time in the chorus, rapping, “Freddy Krueger, give ‘em a nightmare.” On this track, Metro Boomin and Offset work in perfect cohesion as a dynamic duo to create all of the elements that one needs to embrace the haunted spirit.
“Vamp Anthem” by Playboi Carti
Since the release of “Whole Lotta Red” in 2020, Playboi Carti has revamped — no pun intended — his entire persona into an artist who embraces demonic imagery, wears almost exclusively black clothing and paints his face to resemble skeletons or past rock musicians such as Marilyn Manson. While he once concealed his dark, mysterious nature by embodying an unassuming, cunning appearance — like any true vampire would — Playboi Carti has transformed his sound into one that will at times shake you at your core. Although his latest album is filled with gritty, aggressive beats and proclaims himself as the king of all vamps (short for vampire) there is no more quintessential Halloween pick than “Vamp Anthem.” Sampling Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” which has famously been used to mark the entrance of Nosferatu in the 1922 iconic film of the same name, Playboi Carti offers a sort of bat signal to summon and unite all fellow vamps. Through its chilling organ melody and energetic chorus, this song offers a unique space to either mosh at his chaotic, hellish concerts or sulk in the nocturnal atmosphere that he so intently cultivates.
“Skyfall” by Travis Scott & Metro Boomin
In a behind-the-scenes look at the studio session that led to the creation of this song, Travis Scott says to Metro Boomin, “This is like the perfect evil melody.” For years, these two artists have brought out the best in each other, working together on highlights from both of their respective careers. Metro Boomin’s layered and melancholic production perfectly complements Travis Scott’s moody, deadpan delivery and unique melodies. This song consists of a gloomy, minor chord progression, ghostly bell melodies and reverberated drums that sound like an evil villain is slowly approaching from the shadows. In the realm of dark trap music, “Skyfall” is one of its most revolutionary and pivotal tracks, as it helped to inspire a new wave of production centered around evoking sinister sounds and emotions.
“the ends” by Travis Scott featuring André 3000
As the intro to Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” album, this track begins like a slow, steep incline at the start of a haunted roller coaster. The first minute of this song showcases Scott’s ability to create a cinematic atmosphere through a swarm of hypnotic, spacey synths, a dramatic bassline and passionate, emotional melodies. It takes an unsettling turn, however, during André 3000’s verse in the final minute of the track. André 3000, who is renowned for his storytelling ability, creates a vivid and detailed depiction of his gruesome and dangerous upbringing. He raps, “I came up in a town, they were murdering kids / And dumped them in the creek up from where I live / Bodies, bodies, bodies, sprinkled around.” With these distressing lyrics and blood-curdling, Joker-esque evil laughs that pan from right to left in the background, this song perfectly encompasses all of the creepy feelings that one experiences during the Halloween season.
“G-Lock On Me” by Sheff G
With a sample taken from the 1965 horror film “Nightmare Castle,” this song opens with a woman in distress struggling and crying, “You’re a monster!” This immediately sets the tone for the rest of the track, a menacing tale about having to protect oneself against the evils of the world. Sheff G’s deep, assertive voice lays on top of ominous production with pulsating strings and a powerful, yet subtle, sub-bass that lives hauntingly below the surface.
To see the rest of this playlist, check it out here.