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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings



On the morning of my eighteenth birthday, I awoke in a dope house. The term for such a location is now commonly referred to as a “traphouse,” as the act of “trapping” entails the distribution of illegal or illicit substances.


My girlfriend at the time, “Babygirl,” had a relative who resided in the house and gang set members with whom I was friends trapped from the residence. Having spent the previous night with Babygirl, I awoke in the morning on a mattress without proper bedding and stains on it.


The front door had formerly been kicked in by a local SWAT team, the house had a constant order of marijuana mixed with un-discarded trash, and I once witnessed a friend smoke a joint using pages of the Old Testament as rolling paper when in the home.


There was an ever-present threat of robbery (i.e., theft using violence), burglary (i.e., theft without use of violence), and physical assault (e.g., a person under the influence committing violence against other people). It was truly a dangerous place.


Fortunately, there was no legitimate threat of drive-by shootings. This is because the international criminal organization that supplied my friends with product for slanging maintained a tight rein on overt criminal activity which would draw too much attention from police.


Although I didn’t live in the area where the traphouse was located, many of my friends did. Most of these minors were high school dropouts, many were runaways, and a couple of people who were mandated by the court to attend school were on the verge of expulsion.


On the other hand, I lived with a family that had taken me into their residence from the children’s home at which I previously resided and we lived in a middle class neighborhood. As well, the high school I attended was in an upper middle class district.


Whereas I chose to kick it with gang members, thugs, and juvenile delinquents, my friends were virtually trapped (prevention from escaping) in the trap lifestyle. This included everything from drug distribution to sex trafficking. Their life wasn’t glamorous.


When thinking of this topic, framed through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I consider lyrics of Saint Jhn’s song “Trap,” featuring rapper Lil Baby. Jhn’s chorus states:


Only love a real nigga ever knew was trap, I trap, I trap

Really came up from the map, no turnin’ back

Only love a real nigga ever knew was trap, that’s fact, that’s fact

Nigga came up from the map, no turnin’ back

Only love a real nigga ever knew was... (trap)


I realize there are significant differences between the crack epidemic in the United States (‘80s-‘90s), the opioid epidemic (‘90s-present). Times may change, though substance use/abuse creates a demand for which product will be supplied.


Therefore, I can understand the allure of a trap lifestyle seemingly promoted by Saint Jhn. Similarly, I comprehend the no true Scotsman fallacy inherent in the suggestion that a “real nigga” is one who traps. Apparently, one who doesn’t slang is fake.


Without moral judgement, disputing the irrational belief implicit in Jhn’s position leads me to consider the following syllogisms through use of logic and reason:


Modus ponendo ponens (hypothetical syllogism) –


Major premise: If A, then B


Minor premise: Not A


Conclusion: Therefore, not B



Major premise: If you’re a real nigga, then you’ll sell illegal or illicit substances.


Minor premise: You don’t sell illegal or illicit substances.


Conclusion: Therefore, you’re not a real nigga.



Modus tollendo ponens (distinctive syllogism) –


Major premise: If P is true or Q is true


Minor premise: and P is false


Conclusion: then Q is true



Major premise: I can either be a fake nigga or there’s no turning back from trap.


Minor premise: I’m not a fake nigga.


Conclusion: Consequently, there’s no turning back from trap.


When Saint Jhn’s interpreted justification for his actions is broken down in this manner, one can see the irrational flaws inherent in his perceived beliefs. One can then dispute the unhealthy components of Jhn’s inferred assumptions.


Is being a “real nigga” worth the trappings of a trap lifestyle? Constant fear associated with beliefs about law enforcement tracking you, the potential of being robbed or burglarized, and the threat of retaliation from rival dealers is ever-present. Is it all worth it?


When I spent time in a traphouse, I learned through observation of my friends that there were two likely scenarios which logically followed the path of drug distribution: Option 1) Death or option 2) Incarceration.


One may have the intestinal fortitude to trap, though is one prepared for the consequences of that path? I can’t answer this question for the reader, Saint Jhn, or others. As previously stated, I’m not here to declare that one’s decision is good, bad, right, wrong, or otherwise.


My gang-related friends had virtually no other viable option to make money in order to sustain life. I say “virtually,” not “literally,” because there were other alternatives. However, most of those different options were undesirable to my carnales (e.g., residence at a children’s home).


For the overwhelming majority of people, I suspect we have choices about whether or not to engage in helpful versus unhelpful behavior. Regarding the topic of trapping, I appreciate what Big Boi said on “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”:


Can’t gamble feeding baby on that dope money

Might not always be sufficient

But the United Parcel Service and them people at the post office didn’t call you back,

Because you had cloudy piss

So now, you back in the trap

Just that: trapped!

Gon’ and marinate on that for a minute


Just as REBT invites people to consider the consequences of irrational beliefs, I encourage people to think about the consequences of unnecessary choices such as trapping. That is unless being prevented from escaping (trapped) is appealing to you.


As for me, I’ve come a long way from my introduction into adulthood on a soiled mattress in a traphouse. If you’d like to know more about how not to trap yourself with unproductive decisions and beliefs, I can help you come up from the map, as Saint Jhn suggests, by elevating from the trappings of trap mentality.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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