Snap music (also known as ringtone rap or snap rap) is a subgenre of hip hop music derived from crunk that originated in the South in the late-1990s, in Bankhead, West Atlanta, the United States. It achieved mainstream popularity throughout the mid-2000s, but declined shortly thereafter. Popular snap artists include D4L, Dem Franchize Boys and K-Rab.
Tracks commonly consist of an 808 bass drum, hi-hat, bass, snapping, a main groove and a vocal track. Many snap songs also incorporate whistling. Hit snap songs include "Do It to It" by Cherish, "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" by Dem Franchize Boys, "Snap Yo Fingers" by Lil Jon, "Laffy Taffy" by D4L, "It's Goin' Down" by Yung Joc and "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, and voted one of "The 15 Best Snap Music Songs Of All-Time" is "Look At Her" by One Chance.
It is suggested that snap music appeared around 2000 in a crime-infested neighborhood of Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. Bankhead was a place where the difference between poor and rich was striking, and, as it has been described, "a lighter sound" of snap was born "in the midst of all the aggression." Very soon after its creation, snap music took on another type of music of Atlanta - crunk. In 2003, Dem Franchize Boys, who had already produced some snap hits for local clubs by the time, got signed to Universal Music Group. It has been said that weak promotion and the decision of Universal Music to put out the debut album of Dem Franchize Boys and Nelly's - "Sweat and Suit" the same day were reasons why their first album wasn't a success. In 2005, they got the attention of Jermaine Dupri, who remixed their single "I Think They Like Me" and signed them to So So Def. The remix of "I Think They Like Me" topped the Hot Rap/R&B songs chart and spotted #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Jermaine Dupri was later described as the key figure in bringing snap music into the mainstream.
Another Atlanta four, D4L, were performing at Atlanta's Vision Nightclub and Lounge alongside 8Ball, Keyshia Cole and Slim Thug at the time. In 2005, they have produced "Laffy Taffy" hit, which occupied the number one position in Billboard Hot 100 charts. Their debut album, "Down For Life", was certified gold by RIAA. D4L and Dem Franchize Boys started a rivalry over who started snap. As Fabo of D4L mentioned, Dem Franchize Boys were looked down upon by members of the community, and were referred to as "label prostitutes" there. However, New York Times stated that lyric-oriented producers like T.I. and Young Jeezy get way more respect in Atlanta, than acts like D4L, where snap music is seen as light club music as opposed to "heavy street" music of ones like T.I.
As this rivalry continued, the resident DJ of Atlanta's Pool Palace DJ T-Roc has claimed that K-Rab was making snap long before Dem Franchize Boys and D4L. There are other facts telling that K-Rab could be the original creator of snap - he has produced "Laffy Taffy" and his voice can be heard on the early snap hits, like "Do The Pool Palace" and "Bubble Gum".
2005 and 2006 saw snap music's rise to mainstream popularity. On January 12, 2006, the New York Times reviewed "Laffy Taffy". While analyzing the song's structure, the author noted that "On the hip-hop prestige scale, goofy dance songs like "Laffy Taffy' don't rate very high." The review also touched the broader topic of snap music with a conclusion, that it's hardly possible that major record label catches on this sound, as they, in the opinion of the author, needed something "more serious" than snap. It was also noted that snap does very well with digital download system, as "cheap" snap and cheap cost of digital tracks (99 cents for "Laffy Taffy") fit well. There was another hit with popping sound in the place of snare drum that has reached the number-three position on Billboard Hot 100 in 2006, which is Yung Joc's "It's Goin' Down". The Billboard magazine claimed that popping sounds of "It's Going Down", however, weren't fingersnapping. Crunk producer Lil Jon also increased exposure of the snap genre to the mainstream by releasing his single "Snap Yo Fingers", which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
In 2006, Vibe magazine has also mentioned the subgenre of snap, snap&B in connection to the Cherish album Unappreciated. Vibe stated a concern whether snap&B can take on crunk&B, which was too popular at the time. Vibe also pointed to one characteristic trait of snap&B, saying that, unlike slow jams, which may feature snapping, a track should be "pop" as well to be called "snap&B".
Snap continued to maintain a strong presence on the mainstream Billboard Charts in 2007. In late 2007, then 17-year-old American rapper Soulja Boy released his hit "Crank That", which enjoyed the number one position in the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, and was nominated for a Grammy and became one of the main hits of the year, advancing the influence of snap music on the Billboard charts, as well as furthering delving into the crunk genre. During the same year, a number of websites specializing in crunk mixtapes opened, increasing exposure to the genre. Producer T-Pain has entered Billboard Hot 100 charts with his snap&B hit, "Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin')". The latter one spotted number-one on Billboard Hot 100 and became number-68 in Rolling Stone's "Best Songs of 2007" list. In November 2008, Atlanta rapper V.I.C. released his hit snap single Get Silly which peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnered single sales of 500,000 copies sold.