Music Briefs: Trip Hop

Trip Hop performance of Morcheeba.

Trip Hop is an electronic music genre that first appeared in the early 1990s, primarily in the United Kingdom. Electronic beats and production techniques combined with established genres, such as hip-hop, jazz, and soul, distinguish the sound. Musicians also describe this genre as a psychedelic fusion of hip-hop and electronica with slow tempos, a melancholy feel, and atmospheric soundscapes, emphasizing texture and atmosphere.


History of Trip Hop

Trip hop (sometimes known as “downtempo”) is a musical genre that began in the early 1990s in Bristol, United Kingdom. The style evolved as a more experimental form of breakbeat from the Bristol sound movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, integrating influences from jazz, soul, funk, dub, and rap beats. Acts such as Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead were among its early pioneers. The term “Trip hop” was first used in a 1994 Mixmag article about American producer DJ Shadow.


Massive Attack’s Blue Lines

The release of Massive Attack’s debut album, “Blue Lines,” in 1991 marked the turning point moment in trip-hop history. Widely regarded as a genre classic, the album blends soul, reggae, hip-hop, and electronic music. Tracks like “Unfinished Sympathy” and “Safe from Harm” popularized the genre.


Trip Hop becoming Mainstream

The downtempo began to achieve public exposure in the mid-to-late 1990s, with artists such as Morcheeba or Sneaker Pimps getting commercial success. Trip hop music and inspirations began to appear on film soundtracks and in ads. This genre has influenced artists in different genres, such as Gorillaz, Nine Inch Nails, and PJ Harvey, and even artists such as Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, and Björk have drawn inspiration from the genre.


Genre Characteristics

The following characteristics distinguish trip hop music:

  • Downtempo Beats: The tunes often have slow to mid-tempo drum beats that produce a relaxed, dreamy groove.
  • Sampling: A typical trip hop method in which producers use fragments of existing music or sounds and tweak them to create new compositions.
  • Electronic Production Technologies: The genre prominently uses synthesizers, drum machines, and digital effects.
  • Instrumentation: Tracks can include a range of instruments to add depth and complexity to the music, such as keyboards, bass guitars, and brass or string instruments.
  • Vocals: Sultry or ethereal female vocals are common in trip hop tunes, but male vocals or instrumental tracks are also typical. The vocal approach frequently compliments the music’s somber and atmospheric tone.
  • Lyrics: The lyrics cover various topics, from contemplative and melancholy to social and political critique.


Pond5 Examples of Trip Hop

Listen to the tracks dedicated to the genre and get inspired for your next production.


Submission ideas

  • Submit tracks in length between 3 and 7 minutes.
  • The tempo should be between 80-130 BPM.
  • You can use both electric and acoustic drums plus guitar and bass guitar.
  • Don’t forget to experiment with different genres.



  • Take advantage of the 50-keyword limit and add both broad and specific keywords. Please do not use a recognizable band or artist name!
  • We also encourage you to submit separate :15 and :30 versions of these tracks for social media use.
  • Don’t forget to add TRIPHOPP5BRIEF among your keywords so we can track down and promote your content.
  • Please note you can apply tags to existing tracks in your portfolio.

Top Image: “Croatia, Pula, 020723. The British Group Morcheeba Performed In The Litt…” by IMAGO.

Don’t forget to check out our other Music Briefs articles.