How can album six feel like the first one?  It’s been that sort of odyssey for Trae Tha Truth as he’s gone from hailed champion on 2006’s Restless to present time where he’s considered an outcast on his home city’s radio station despite having a definite hit on his hands with Pittsburgh’s golden child of the moment Wiz Khalifa and enough features over the past three years that all of them could be released on their own individual merit and still reign.

As long as he’s been walking the earth, Trae is a man of conviction – unwavering and firm when it comes to something he believes in. That sentiment alone is what carries the Asshole By Nature into his sixth full length and arguably most important release to date, Street King. Filled to the brim with guest slots from artists all over the country, Trae doesn’t lean one bit on any of them to reach the finish line. Instead, it’s like a family with everyone getting a chance to eat from the same pot.

There’s something about Trae’s gravelly voice that either can switch from weary sing-song to rapid fire hymn dispenser (evident clearly on “I’m Gone Bus”) that draws people in. He speaks clearly behind black frames at all times. On a feature heavy album, even in a crowd Trae immediately pushes things into another gear and brings things tighter for heightened supervision. The aptly titled “Street King” has Trae sneering alongside chimes and sturdy drums from Track Bangas, letting the repeatedly chopped chorus of “I’m respected in these streets/Yet they play me like a game” echo on while Trae gives straight forward testimony.

Despite numerous delays, nothing about this album feels outdated as Trae feels like Lazarus in being able to take something already done and give it new life. For example, three of the album’s eighteen cuts have appeared in other iterations. Lil Wayne adds a little more over the Street Runner produced “That’s Not Luv” which previously appeared on a Fabolous mixtape and the heavy “Goes Out” featuring Scarface & J-Dawg was Mr. Rogers’ gift to Dom Kennedy’s “1997”. Doesn’t matter to Trae at all, as their versions remain separate, even when he packages in a verse on the remixed version of “Inkredible”.

Truthfully, there’s no way to separate Street King in halves. It has to be taken as a complete work in which Trae weaves through three arcs: the been through hell gangster who still holds his piece close, the man who can’t understand why people have forsaken him and the man in the middle. The forsaken appears in its heaviest dose on “Just Don’t Get It” as the bluesy chorus and Rockaway Productions guitar work help Trae paint a picture, detailing his own misunderstanding of how things altered for the worse. Is he talking about his city, a close friend & confidant? Who knows exactly but its evident as tough as he is – he still bleeds like the rest of us.

Before Street King, Trae’s albums all came with a signature stamp of Houston about them: enriched in slowed samples, thundering bass and cruise control authenticity. True, that ideology seeps out at times on his latest work but no one could ever imagine Trae rocking over a chopped sample of Mark Morrison’s “Return of The Mack” yet that’s what hometown maestro CyFyre does, giving “I’m On” the definite feel of a worthy album closer with arguably Lupe Fiasco’s best verse of 2011 as its tipping point.

Somehow, Trae has done the unthinkable with Street King – weathered a heavy storm created by powers out of his control and walked out like Shawshank, cleaner and more of an enigma than ever. His rule of the streets has captured more than just Texas, its literally spread to a nation of people who ride with that particular asshole – for the better.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5

How can album six feel like the first one?  It’s been that sort of odyssey for Trae Tha Truth as he’s gone from hailed champion on 2006’s Restless to present time where he’s considered an outcast on his home city’s radio station despite having a definite hit on his hands with Pittsburgh’s golden child of the moment Wiz Khalifa and enough features over the past three years that all of them could be released on their own individual merit and still reign.

As long as he’s been walking the earth, Trae is a man of conviction – unwavering and firm when it comes to something he believes in. That sentiment alone is what carries the Asshole By Nature into his sixth full length and arguably most important release to date, Street King. Filled to the brim with guest slots from artists all over the country, Trae doesn’t lean one bit on any of them to reach the finish line. Instead, it’s like a family with everyone getting a chance to eat from the same pot.

There’s something about Trae’s gravelly voice that either can switch from weary sing-song to rapid fire hymn dispenser (evident clearly on “I’m Gone Bus”) that draws people in. He speaks clearly behind black frames at all times. On a feature heavy album, even in a crowd Trae immediately pushes things into another gear and brings things tighter for heightened supervision. The aptly titled “Street King” has Trae sneering alongside chimes and sturdy drums from Track Bangas, letting the repeatedly chopped chorus of “I’m respected in these streets/Yet they play me like a game” echo on while Trae gives straight forward testimony.

Despite numerous delays, nothing about this album feels outdated as Trae feels like Lazarus in being able to take something already done and give it new life. For example, three of the album’s eighteen cuts have appeared in other iterations. Lil Wayne adds a little more over the Street Runner produced “That’s Not Luv” which previously appeared on a Fabolous mixtape and the heavy “Goes Out” featuring Scarface & J-Dawg was Mr. Rogers’ gift to Dom Kennedy’s “1997”. Doesn’t matter to Trae at all, as their versions remain separate, even when he packages in a verse on the remixed version of “Inkredible”.

Truthfully, there’s no way to separate Street King in halves. It has to be taken as a complete work in which Trae weaves through three arcs: the been through hell gangster who still holds his piece close, the man who can’t understand why people have forsaken him and the man in the middle. The forsaken appears in its heaviest dose on “Just Don’t Get It” as the bluesy chorus and Rockaway Productions guitar work help Trae paint a picture, detailing his own misunderstanding of how things altered for the worse. Is he talking about his city, a close friend & confidant? Who knows exactly but its evident as tough as he is – he still bleeds like the rest of us.

Before Street King, Trae’s albums all came with a signature stamp of Houston about them: enriched in slowed samples, thundering bass and cruise control authenticity. True, that ideology seeps out at times on his latest work but no one could ever imagine Trae rocking over a chopped sample of Mark Morrison’s “Return of The Mack” yet that’s what hometown maestro CyFyre does, giving “I’m On” the definite feel of a worthy album closer with arguably Lupe Fiasco’s best verse of 2011 as its tipping point.

Somehow, Trae has done the unthinkable with Street King – weathered a heavy storm created by powers out of his control and walked out like Shawshank, cleaner and more of an enigma than ever. His rule of the streets has captured more than just Texas, its literally spread to a nation of people who ride with that particular asshole – for the better.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5