We’re always talking about the next “next.” Lebron is the next Jordan, Kanye is the next DJ Premier, Yung Berg is the next MC Hammer. Sure it’s a great debate when you’re driving with your boys, or even when you’re posting on your favorite hip-hop site (DJBooth, right?), but lately we’ve been too quick to call something great. Someone drops a good album and before the speakers have even stopped vibrating everyone’s calling it a classic. An MC truly achieves legendary status only because no one will ever do it the same way, at the …
DJBooth Album Review
So for arguments sake let’s spend today trying to fill in this blank: Trae is the next _______. Let’s start with what we do know: Trae is one of Houston’s finest, though his new album Life Goes On reveals a rapper with a canyon deep voice and a penchant for gunfire, not exactly the candy-paint-drippin sounds of some of his other H-Town brethren. In fact his lyrical content places him closer to Young Jeezy than Paul Wall. The darker edged material is understandable considering Trae has recently watched several of his family and friends get locked up or violently killed. Trae’s undeniably a good MC, the question is how good?
A thug life MC who has the ability to make you feel his pain with every rhyme, Tupac did it like none other - could Trae possibly be that good? The comparison will be easy considering there’s actually a track featuring Pac, the old school sounding Against All Odds, and by old school I mean 1995. Pac’s verse is rock hard, but he brings an emotional intensity missing in Trae’s drawling and slow paced flow. It’s equally insane to call Trae the next Lil’ Wayne, even though Trae does some of his best work next to Weezy on the staggering cut Screwed Up. The track’s actually minimally chopped n’screwed, it’s built around a violin line and snapping percussion, but it’s still a certifiably Houston. Life Goes On shows Trae can flash shades of Pac, particularly on his ode to his murdered comrade Big Hawk, Give My Last Breath, but he’s world’s away from the only man to release more tracks after his death then while he was alive. All hail Pac.
A rapper with a history of hustling rap takes a decided turn for the mainstream and brings in pop singers for some catchy singles – is Trae the next Ja Rule? We’re only talking because of Ghetto Queen. The track starts with music box-esque high notes and some falsetto crooning from Lloyd, a singer with the irrepressible energy of a cheerleader. Sometimes the contract between hard verses and a soft chorus works, this is not one of those times. And I’d rather not even get into Rich Boy’s guest verse, I might write something that will get us sued, again. A much better choice is I’m Good, a track that somehow manages to turn the kind of saxophone line popular in 80’s porn (I’ve been told) into a real banger. Live drums drive the track, Jody Breeze delivers an impressive vocal performance, and Trae speeds up his flow nicely. I think it’s safe to say Trae isn’t in Ja Rule territory, unless he starts doing less songs like Ghetto Queen and more like I’m Good.
A rapper with a deep voice that can alternate between tales of street hustling and radio-friendly flows – we’ve finally found our match. Throw Aways has one of the better riding beats in memory, full of enough slamming synths and gunfires to give all the reverends out there something to sermonize about. Vocally the track’s a battle of grimy voices; Yung Joc’s flow is raspy, Gorilla Zoe’s is raspier, and Trae sounds like he brushed his teeth with gravel. If you were looking for one track that’s indicative of the average quality on the album it’s Throw Aways- more original than the formulaic C Me Ride but more cinematic than the surprisingly personal The Truth. In the end Life Goes On has enough style to give Trae his own place in the game, it’s up to him to have us saying "that new rapper is the next Trae."
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 11/2/07
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First DJ Booth Appearance:
"In Tha Hood ft. Yung Joc" (2007)
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