Trae’s hoarse tones are up there with Big Twins and Bun B as some of the most unique, distinct and memorable deliveries in Hip-Hop, it’s just a shame then that Trae’s so called magnum opus ends up being largely forgettable.
The decision to put “Tricken Every Car I Get” after an “Intro” is a confusing start, as it’s unclear whether Trae is being incredibly ignorant or deeply ironic and mocking materialism itself. The “Intro” is delivered in a comedic manner by Lil Duval and explains how modern Hip-Hop is imbalanced, with too many preferring to dwell on the riches and success, but not the journey and struggle that got us here. There’s a lot of truth in this, which given the name of the album makes sense, but Trae then ignores this whole concept by boasting how much time and money he spends on his cars. It’s clear from subsequent songs that Trae is very much someone who worships money over everything, even saying that he’d place his wristwatch over your life – I’m sure there’s a “time is money” piece of wordplay there.
The redeemable tracks are all ones that see Trae putting personal experiences in to his rhymes. “Book of Life” sees Trae flexing his lyrical dexterity on a haunting backdrop, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. That is a good thing however, as it also gives time to the instrumental, something that much of the album doesn’t. Halfway through “Tha Truth”, it all mellows out and shows where Trae is at his best – his Barry White-like deep tones are best complemented by more sullen production, and that’s why his collaboration with The World’s Freshest last year was so damn good. It’s the instrumentals that don’t “rattle the trunk” that mesh best with Trae’s domineering presence.
The best song on the album is easily “Determined”, an introspective song giving a rare glimpse beneath the impeccable shape-up and dazzling jewellery. Trae gives the Jay Oliver/MIZFITSOUNDZ instrumental a nostalgic spin with reflection on his family and how life flies by too fast. On the contrary, the disappointingly titled “Yeah Hoe” feels like a lyrical experiment from Trae that was meant for a different track, as he packs in way too many words that are instantly usurped by Problem and Lil’ Boss. And it’s the collaborations that take away from what could have been a strong effort from the Texas rapper, showing that if Trae can shake off some of the weaknesses from his flamboyant lifestyle, he could well release a great record one day, truth be told.