Trae's Can't Ban Tha Truth A Landmark Of Houston Rap
There has not been, nor will there be, a rap album from Houston this year as entangled in storylines and ramifications as Trae's Can't Ban Tha Truth. Not even if he somehow manages to release The Truth, the LP that was supposed to usher him into the national spotlight but was pushed aside as The Ban took hold of all of his attention.
CBTT is considerably more than just an album taking shots at The Box - it is that, though. The Ban has effectively altered the trajectory of not only Trae's career, but also his entire outlook, which will have, and is already having, resounding effects on his music. This album represents that shift with a strange, unreserved enthusiasm. It is a marker in Houston hip-hop history.
Trae has always been intuitive and shrewd; you don't get to the position he is in now - effectively able to provide for handfuls of people despite a limited education and a snowstorm of hardship hurdles - without being that. And after being able to see the resulting effects of The Ban (i.e. how loyalty does not translate well to rap, especially in a market as insular as the South), those characteristics have become hyper-magnified. That's what drives Can't Ban Tha Truth.
Hit the jump for the notes from the album.
• There is no stratagem on CBTT, nor any clever deception cloaking Trae's intentions. There is no wartime suppression fire. He simply stood up and walked head-first into the fight. This is an album with a purpose, which means very little of it is empty space.
Remember how driven Chamillionaire was to destroy Mike Jones on Mixtape Messiah? Cham always did his best work when had an agenda. Trae does too, and he possesses that same sort of intensity here. There were concerns that there was the potential for this to become little more than a tape full of whining and posturing, but Trae's crushing sincerity nullifies that.
• The entire tape has very clear cinematic feeling. There are no distractions. Trae's focus does not wane. The production on nearly every song is airtight; it's all horror-movie dramatics and ambient sadness and disappointment.
• Only two parts on the entire album feel negligible: The Castlevanian "Hood Nights," which Gudda Gudda fans will no doubt enjoy, and a cameo from Yung Turk (remember him?) talking about the difference between bitch niggas and real niggas. That's a hit-to-miss ration of 19/21. That's 90 percent, yo.
• With regards to the Yung Turk mention in that last bullet, there are four non-rapping cameos made: Turk, Lil Duval (who is actually a little funny), Pimp C and Pimp C's mother. The Pimp C clip is a recording of him that was taken after he got out of prison alleging that Terri Thomas from The Box threatened to not play his albums if he didn't open up at one of The Box's shows, as well as to call his parole officer and say that Pimp was threatening her, which would have landed him back in prison. The vitriol in his voice is near palpable.
• Pimp C's mom makes an appearance to talk about how bad everyone that has abandoned Trae should feel. Her monologue is delivered over some very somber organ and guitar rifts. It absolutely works. You can't listen to it without feeling like an asshole.
• There are four songs on CBTT that people will be buzzing about after it gets released: "Cop A Drop," "General," "They Won't Play This On The Radio" and "Bad Don't Seem So Wrong." Read on for little about each: