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DJBooth Album Review
The Villain. Let’s take a moment to ruminate on that album title, since it explains so much about Trick’s place in the game. Trick is a complicated man, and like most complicated artists the public’s not quite sure what to think about the heavyweight rapper. After all, what are we to make of someone who poses for photos carrying automatic weapons, and coaches a wheelchair basketball team? How do we understand an artist whose rhymes can be eloquent, and set the DJBooth record for most obscenities in a single interview? Is Trick a hero or a villain? A criminal or a community leader? All of the above?
Trick’s reputation is built on his lyrically stomping style, a low guttural growl of a flow, and he doesn’t hold back on The Villain. The musical beatdown starts with Who Want It, a speaker-bursting track that finds Trick deliver his rhymes with a shotgun-blast cadence. Hip-hop nation wants to hear from Want It’s guest feature Eminem so badly that Who Want It is guaranteed to draw serious attention, even if those fans leave a little disappointed by his unimaginative (by his standards) verse. It’s the same story on Let’s Work, a banger that has Trick playing the role of hood motivational speaker. Trick produced most of the tracks on the album, and Let’s Work is a perfect example of his beat-making style: exploding bass and military percussion underwriting subtle synths. If you like your music as subtle as a punch in the face, The Villain is for you.
Even the hardest MC needs a single, and Trick Trick is no different. In this case The Villain brings us Let It Fly, a track that’s a hip-hop United Nations, bringing together the South’s Lil Jon on the beat, the West’s Ice Cube on the mic, and of course MidWest representation from Trick. Fly is easily the catchiest track on the album, but what’s remarkable is how gutter even the most radio-ready track on The Villain is. Lately even the most street rappers are doing their requisite “song for the ladies” – not Trick. The closest he gets is All Around The World, a bouncing cut that brings out Trick’s more thoughtful side. No one’s going to be studying Trick’s lyrical prowess, but he’s unflinchingly honest, and that’s exactly what his fans expect.
All this unfiltered griminess can get a little old over the course of an album; luckily The Villian manages to switch things up just enough to keep things interesting. On the top of that list is 2getha 4 Eva, an unexpected Run DMC tribute that brings together Esham, the late Proof and Kid Rock, all over a Jam Master Jay-esque beat. For anyone ready to say artists like Trick don’t know “real hip-hop”, I suggest you give 2getha a listen. If only the song title didn’t look like a 7th grade girl wrote it. Listeners get another breath of fresh air on Follow Me, a track that has Trick promising ten grand to anyone who can decipher his lyrics, which swing from Snoop-ish izzle-speak to straight up reverse rhyming. It’s impressive, and welcome comic relief amongst 18 tracks of brute force. Will he really reward anyone who can figure out the lyrics? Give it a try and let me know. In a way Follow Me is actually a great metaphor for the album as a whole. Listeners willing to spend some time listening to The Villian will find themselves richly rewarded, and everyone else honestly won’t be missing much. If that sounds complicated don’t blame me. Trick Trick’s a complicated man. I just report the facts.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Nov 13, 2008
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