Trae Is Regal, Menacing On New Album Street King
Unless you have some prior issue or grievance with Trae Tha Truth - like he punched you in the nose or headed a grassroots campaign attacking your company's character or whatevs - he's pretty much made it impossible to root against him.
He works like a horse, is apparently loyal to a fault, and now, with the release of Street King, has proven that he is capable of thriving in the independent music market. The album is good. It is better than good. It might be his best album to date. It might even age to be his most important too; Restless earns that designation right now, but if this one spider-webs into the sort of national success that it was constructed to chase down, it might catch up.
There are a bunch of moving parts here, but they mostly fall into one of three categories: The Pack, or, as it might be called, The Potential Criticism; The Sound, or, as it might be called, The Evolution of Trae; and The Incidentals, or Other Potentially Interesting Shit. Piece by piece.
The Pack (Potential Criticism)
Trae is a pack animal. This shouldn't be a point that's questioned anymore. He needs to lead. He needs to be responsible for more than himself. He needs that pressure. He's just built that way.
Still, when the tracklist and art were released for this album, one stat seemed a little ominous: On an 18*-track album, there were 28 features. Twenty-eight, bro. Let's say each song had three verses; that's about average for rap songs. Eighteen tracks times three verses each means there'd be a total of 54 verses to go around.
And in this instance, more than 50** percent of them were going to be divvied up among guys not named Trae. The immediate concern then seemed to be that fans, having waited now more than three years since Trae's last proper solo album, would be a bit frustrated by that.
But Street King sidesteps any "This Doesn't Feel Like a Trae Album" feeling. Had he tried to swing something like this earlier in his career, Trae likely would've been swallowed up by the context. But at this point in his career, his presence, now about as powerful as the Sun's gravity, is burly enough to pull all of the ideas/voices into one narrative.
Even when he's not around, he's around, seemingly watching from the shadows like the goddamned boogieman. And that's pretty impressive.
* Trae is credited with having six solo albums. Of those, four of them exactly had 18 tracks. If you don't count the intro, last year's Can't Ban Tha Truth had 18 tracks too. That might not mean something, but it might. Eighteen is a lucky number in Chinese culture, eventually translating into something about being prosperous. So there's that. Also, there's the 18 Electron Rule when you're trying to predict the stability of metals on the Periodic Table. Maybe he just really likes Chemistry.
**Two of the guest features only provide choruses, so the proper number here would be 48 percent. Whatevs. You get the point.