It’s important to remember that, though trap music is most closely identified with triple-time hi-hats, the genre takes its name not from percussive onomatopoeia, but from street slang, and further, that the trap is not just an institution, but a system of institutionalization. What better name for a trap song then than “Willie Bosket?”
If you Google the name, you’ll see two New York Times articles: 1989’s “A Boy Who Killed Coldly Is Now a Prison ‘Monster’” and 2008’s “Two Decades in Solitary.” The titles say it all, except that it was Willie Bosket whose youthful recidivism led New York State to change its laws so that violent offenders as young as 13 could be tried as adults under the Juvenile Offenders Act a.k.a. The Willie Bosket Law. Institutions foster institutionalization. Traps begat traps.
Institutionalization is personified in “Willie Bosket” by two characters (although they could theoretically be one and the same; after all, loss of identity is a symptom of institutionalization) portrayed in verses by Elucid and billy woods: the first, an “underprivileged over-medicated” youth at the mercy of broken courts and schools; the second, a crack and PCP user for whom “every day is drama — Mr. Zone 6.” Their tales are told over longtime woods collaborator Marmaduke’s best trapproximation, and here, captured on video by director Boombaye, who constructs a trap of his own by cutting black-and-white film samples with footage of Elucid and woods rapping in front of a projector playing said film.
“Willie Bosket” was a standout track on Armand Hammer’s Race Music (TMT Review), which, in case I haven’t already said, was my favorite album of 2013. The next Armand Hammer project is an EP called furtive movements, which is both “the most common reason listed by the police for a ‘stop and frisk’” and a lyric from the billy woods/Elucid collaboration “Freedman’s Bureau.” The furtive movements EP will be released digitally and on custom limited-edition vinyl in May.