Song review-Nipsey by Trae The Truth
I do not feel well. Generally, I am not a neurotic person. My mind is something I manage assertively but the beat on Trae The Truth’s song Nipsey sounds like the buzzing in my head ever since Nip passed. The light piano is the ever-present weeping of those of us that followed Hussle through his mixtape maturation. Everyone is shouting out Nipsey nowadays, at varying levels of stylishly being-in-the-know and authentically dealing. Figures that it would be Trae The Truth that broke me in half and brought me to tears on it.
It figures because this is the guy who punched Mike Jones and evolved into the man who organized the Relief Gang to save people during Hurricane Harvey. This is the kid of dude who only features with people that are known as legit people. You won’t see Trae featuring on a song with some purple haired episcopal white rapper named Ballbag. When the scariest voice in rap says “Damn, I never picture you leavin’ can’t stop the grievin'” it breaks me to pieces because it is perfectly the dark cloud over my head. Beyond prayer hand emoji’s whipped out for any loss of life… Nipsey was supposed to be old and wise and helping his whole coast!
This song is from Trae’s new album Exhale and the project is superb, maybe a little better than his awesome album last year, Hometown Hero. This isn’t the best song, to be honest, Even Tho Its Hard is entrancingly melodic heartfelt and tough. Trae is Scarfaces legacy pulled through Drakes melodic additions to the format. It is all very serious but it sounds beautiful.
I think that is why I trust him to break me in half and put me together every time I hear his dedication to his friend. The same way the kids at Woodbridge Forest Middle School were so relieved to jump into his truck and bail to safety during the hurricane. I rely on Trae (in a much more low stakes way!) to help me with grief in a way that keeps my head up with eyes on Hussle’s legacy and achievements. No guns, no needless tough talk.
Is it weird for me to get so emotional over someone I never met? Trae will understand. Trae and I share a belief that you must live with pain to see the other side of it and the songs we listen to, the people in our lives, the days that go right, are all pieces of the correct medicine. The “foundation of integrity” Nipsey speaks on in the ending audio clip is perfect for Exhale. A whole album where Trae flexes by doing what rappers can’t do anymore; step outside their brand. You see, Trae isn’t a brand. He’s a place. He’s Houston.
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Tagged best albums of 2019, Exhale, greiving, Hometown Hero, Houston, Hurricane Harvey, Nipsey, Nipsey Hussle, song reviews, Southern Rap, Trae Tha Truth, Trae The Truth
Song of The Year-I’ll Be Fine by Trae The Truth
More than any project before his new album Hometown Hero represents the uniqueness of Trae The Truth. His voice has always been raspy, stabbing, and relentless a fantastic guest feature flow to shake you from your comfort zone. Hometown Hero dresses itself to match. Thematically as honest as its narrator with features from people known for how real they keep it (TI, Boosie, Mozzy). Each song envelopes you in bass as he narrates harrowing stories that range from the stress of wearing awful clothes to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. It is one of 2018’s best albums.
As great as the features are (particularly TI’s hook on Better Dayz) the song I’ll Be Fine is the absolute best. The hook stretches and relaxes as he explains the hurt and the strength/assurance he will use to move on. Trae wants to feel the pain of loss and not shut the emotions out but badly wants to control the pain. The verses carry that same conflict. He remembers the casket going into the ground in the first verse and wishes he could hug him one more time. As hard as Hometown Hero is it is still about caring deeply; for friends, family, about people who betray you, your own self-care, your city, state, world.
He swims along the deep bass and leaves any possibility of trunk rattling banger behind as he starts off with the verse, sung with both wistful distance and aged resilience. In Houston trunk rattling bass isn’t just for head banging anthems or turning up. Trae has always understood how valuable time is and he doesn’t waste verses. Hometown Hero is for us to understand that he has people he is talking to and if it seems too serious to you just listen to something else. When he shares stuff like “Time ain’t enough. Wish I could tell you how much it been rough. I had to face it. Everything through it was making me tough. My brother my friend everything bout me is still ABN loyal to death all till the day I’ma see you again.” It’s special because he has the fortitude to bleed in public emotionally without being at all manipulative. He’s not professionally sad instead he processes problems alongside blessings. Long live King Truth.
Mixtape Review-Fukk Fame by Frenchie
Everybody has one of those cheesy action movies they just love. For a buddy of mine it’s Hudson Hawk. For me it’s The Last Boy Scout with Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis. This year Frenchie’s Fukk Fame is the mixtape equivalent. It’s soaked in autotune, a brisk ten tracks without a single meditative reflection song. A lot of trap and drill music this year has made 2 mistakes: a) making the music so serious its not fun b) packaging hardcore material alongside really silly insulting love songs. Frenchie has been around long enough to avoid both mistakes.
If Fukk Fame is a satisfying action movie track 4 Birds and Keys is the car chase pinnacle. DJ Pain 1 adds adrenaline and razor sharp samples to the bridge of any beat he constructs (but this one especially) and a Trae Tha Truth guest verse is solid gold in 2014. Frenchie has a line that says “My daddy made me with vodka and cocaine,” and follows it with neighborhood toughs shooting the casket at a funeral to make sure someone they killed is really dead.
Frenchie makes several attempts at singing that are so bad they are awesome. It helps that none of the hooks feel like some drunken audible at the line of scrimmage. When you hear him have a go at the chorus for Fun he’s really trying to nail it. The mixtape begins with So Long as our narrator croons in warbly robot voice that makes very serious content seem campy. Lyrics on Fukk Fame seem to be half and half serious and silly (whether conscious or unconsciously). In the aforementioned track So Long he says “Told the psychic I wish I could get my friends back, she said they close to you.” While the thought of the deceased staying close to us is poignant, it’s a bit silly to lay such an emotional moment at the hand of a lady in a fake gypsy outfit who has a big goofy hand with an eyeball in the center on her window. If one line from this mixtape represents what I like about Frenchie and Fukk Fame it comes as the first rapped line on Oh No; a Sonny Digital produced banger. Frenchie starts “I bet you can’t do it like me….” And pauses as if he’s going to follow up with the customary $500 jeans and private boat brags then goes left “…but why would you wanna do it like me? I would never want to do it like you!” It’s a brash line and its 100% true. Frenchie didn’t find success off someone else’s blueprint so why would you try it that way?
The mix of frustration, death, partying, and sillyness comes across as a more authentic mix even at its ham fisted height (see track 9: Move On) than anyone in the BSM universe has presented this year. Frenchie is able to find freshness in his sound where others go through the motions because he’s a passionate dude and connects with his music. The beats are fresh but they aren’t from anyone you wouldn’t expect: 808 Mafia, Fatboi, Tino. The difference is he’s all the way plugged in and that energy raises everyone’s bar.
Stream or Download Fukk Fame below:
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Tagged 808 mafia, brick squad, cheesy action movie hip hop, DJ Pain 1, Fatboi, Frenchie, Fukk Fame, Hudson Hawk, mixtape reviews, Sonny Digital, The Last Boy Scout, Tino, Trae The Truth
Mixtape Review-I Am King by Trae The Truth
The sound most affiliated with Houston hip hop is the one we all remember from Mike Jones (and Paul Wall). The gleeful gold grilled riding music that Drake has brought back into every stereo. A lot of the country knows the name DJ Screw but wasn’t around Texas during his height when slowed down 2pac songs played in grocery stores and croaked from car windows. Even fewer recall that horrorcore hip hop originated in Houston with The Geto Boys.
It seems only fitting that the same guy who socked Mike Jones in the face at the height of his fame now steps into the spotlight with the darkest Houston project in years. I Am King is 20 tracks long (with 6 unnecessary skits) and largely the product of Trae the Truth’s relentless guest verse grind. He has smashed tracks with everyone in the industry which is why he can make an event mixtape like I Am King that features: TI, Young Jeezy, Diddy, Meek Mill, B.O.B., Lupe Fiasco, Krayzie Bone, Da Brat, Big Krit, Jadakiss, Snoop Dogg, and a Floyd Mayweather personal reference interlude.
My book on Trae previous to this was that he could ALWAYS give you a fantastic verse but his mixtapes were freestyle hodgepodges largely unorganized and hard to listen too. If you’ve never heard Trae he has a voice like a dying robotic Clint Eastwood and it becomes grating after a while. I Am King threw the book out. On Stay Trill(Bill Collector) it’s not just two of the catchiest artists of all time hookery (Roscoe Dash and Krayzie Bone) making the song stick in your brain. Trae starts his verse in a pleasant sway I had no idea was in his arsenal. By the time Roscoe jumps in the song is already awesome. Trae also navigates a League of Starz air horn/hand clap ratchet beat without feeling like he’s challenged himself at all.
The hits on I Am King really hit. The first real song Hold Up features Young Jeezy Diddy and TI and bangs just as hard as it should. No matter who shows up the vibe never changes. Trae is keeping both eyes open carefully searching for disloyalty and lacing raspy warnings over old school Rick Ross feeling thick hardcore instrumentals. I Am King ,in a few words, is hip hop heavy metal. It has exceptions like the sparkling Old School where things turn quite playalistic. Trae not only macks many women but exercises till he gets a cramp which feels like a very pimpish thing to do. Snoop shows up and vibes out with a good verse. The contemplative(Big Krit assisted) I Believe also breaks the heavyness.
Meek Mill destroys his Ride With Me verse but coming off Dreamchasers 3 we should have anticipated that. I Am King is more than proof that Trae is the truth or can rap his ass off in any number of situations. It’s the mixtape I always used to snicker that he couldn’t make. Houston is full of talented underachievers with the skill to create music at the very highest level. They never get there. Trae The Truth absolutely did and the entire time he yelled I AM KING so all I could do was nod. Well Played.
Stream or download I Am King below:
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Tagged DJ Screw, Dreamchasers 3, Geto Boys, Horrorcore, Houston hip hop, I Am King, Meek Mill, Mike Jones facepunch, mixtape reviews, Roscoe Dash, Trae The Truth, Young Jeezy