First thing’s first, Wiki has an article on it.
This quick write-up is meant to be a consumable version with flavor samples.
This is a genre I discovered in highschool (‘03-‘07) that has since taken permanent place in my beat rotations. My first exposure to it probably came from tangential exploration around my lifelong favorite: The Prodigy.
Shoutout to Ninjatune, a label that pushed trip-hop to its commercial and cultural apex. Wiki describes Ninjatune as embracing mostly hip hop and breakbeat, giving an awkward nod to trip hop but almost as if specifically refusing to mention it.
I expect people to step up and refute various selections in this blog post as belonging to other genres and that is fine. It is awesome that you care enough. Two things: this is an opinion post; trip hop is an experimental genre.
So What is Trip Hop Music?
Arm waving out of the way: trip hop is modern mood music. Trip hop is what happens when modern day electronic artists seek a more emotionally charged melody. Trip hop themes can be melancholic and smooth, or energizing and optimistic.
What I find extra awesome about trip hop (shoutout to Bonobo, Aim, etc) is that the inspiration taken from sampling actual instruments manifested in live instruments at live gigs.
Trip hop is the soundtrack to all of your dreams and fantasies. Trip hop creates a backdrop to a very specific set of emotions, understand that. You might not be able to enjoy these all the time.
Now That All That Garbage is Out of the Way
In no particular order:
9 Lazy 9 - Carborante: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c4eZopGH94
Aim - Birchwood (Live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4A_SHXQ1H0
Boom Bip - Roads Must Roll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgbXDvxYdOM
cLOUDDEAD - Dead Dogs Two (Boards of Canda Remix): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZgslfTeLdU
Blockhead - The Art of Walking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdPtzhnwKSs
Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2zKARkpDW4
Bonobo - Noctuary (Live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzlspuGeKJU
Mr. Scruff - Pickled Spider: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z8p7sHkz3I
RJD2 - Ghostwriter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVqAdIMQZlk
And Finally, the Crowning Jewel to All of Trip Hop Culture
This piece in particular is mind expanding, mostly because of the incredible animation created for it. Watch it, listen to it, think about it:
Blockhead - The Music Scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsgFBHfRNq8
I hope you listen and I hope you feel something. I do, every time I listen.
When writing this, I kept in mind people who will not have the time to taste everything I throw at them, so pieces that did not make the cut were put into the extended selections post.