Los Angeles neighborhood Koreatown is known for having some of the best karaoke experiences in town. For some, nothing beats sitting in small booths with a handful friends and getting intoxicated while that one off-key homie mouths out The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” Anything in terms of Hip Hop’s past or present is normally rare. The corniness of the experience fades with each shot of Jameson. On a mid-January Thursday night, several miles north at Los Globos in Silverlake, one party involved a new function that’s gaining much traction nationally. This karaoke isn’t about the history of radio friendly classics, it’s all about Hip Hop. Dubbed Trap Karaoke, the traveling event has already earned legions of fans since kicking off in East Coast cities including Washington D.C. and New York last year. Since then, Atlanta, L.A. and The Bay Area have hosted the gathering as well. Don’t be surprised when Trap Karaoke becomes a new American pastime sometime down the line.
Between event creators Jason Mowatt and Dela Yador, the initial inception came from a random conversation. “Yador talked about doing a Hip Hop Karaoke event but we both had a lot on our plates at that moment,” says Mowatt. “For about a year, I tried to pitch the idea to someone else.” Eventually, Mowatt decided to do it himself. Now, he only needed a name. “One of my friends said Trap Karaoke and it made so much sense,” explains Mowatt. Lowkey and Austin Millz, more known for their widely celebrated Hennypalooza events joined the fold eventually, as well. “Austin and I had already formed chemistry together because we had been doing Hennypalooza for the past three years,” Lowkey says. According to Mowatt, both Lowkey and Austin are a part of Trap Karaoke’s magic. “The concept gets them through the door but both of them really keep people coming back,” Mowatt says. Equally fascinating is watching all three work alongside each other. Mowatt ran the computer featuring some karaoke software while conducting business with the venue, Lowkey interacted with the crowd through various approaches from cracked jokes to lending HipHopDX a shout out and Millz was almost surgical with fitting the turnt mood sonically.
During the late afternoon interview with Mowatt, Lowkey and Millz before activities commenced, the L.A. edition of Trap Karaoke had already sold out. By the time the night ended, the packed venue featured over 500 people performing everything from Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang to Future and Fetty Wap. “We have an older demographic that comes so they don’t always want to hear the Atlanta stuff,” says Lowkey. “Implementing ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ with ‘Versace’ is a great clash.” It’s easy to understand after one visit. Trap Karaoke is a large party where everyone with enough confidence can let it all hang out to various angles of Hip Hop. There’s a reason why video footage from Trap Karaoke features audience members rhyming along to “Knuck If You Buck” as if they were Crime Mob themselves. Let Mowatt tell it, it’s similar to church service, but instead of singing “Amazing Grace,” it’s “March Madness.” Made sense as the first track performed that night was Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle classic “It Ain’t No Fun” by a trio of unrelated strangers. “You know when you’re at a party, the song comes on and the crowd goes off?” ask Mowatt. “It’s that simple idea. We allow people to come on stage and live out this moment. The crowd engagement is special.” This particular night, Hip Hop’s favorite engineer Young Guru was originally slated to perform a DJ set that would sound sermon like.
Free of inhibitions, Trap Karaoke has managed to already turn over some wild moments including one almost legendary rendition of Beyonce’s “Flawless” by two men during the first edition in New York’s Friends & Lovers venue. One individual officially removed himself from the dreaded friend zone in front of hundreds. The Trap Karaoke crew already has plans to expand. “I want to get two thousand people and just have a Trap Karaoke Festival,” explains Mowatt. Who knows where the future lies for the traveling event that’ll make its way to Trap capitol, Atlanta next month? Right now, it’s safe to say no other Hip Hop Karaoke gets this good.