Audio: Trae, Streets of the South Mixtape

July 30, 2007


"Real Talk" was more or less the jam of the century, and while we were already checking for Trae, it made us check even harder, so it goes without saying that we're excited to hear new material from dude even if it does come in the form of preview snippets from a mixtape that is a preview of an album. We actually just got lost in the concentric circles of our own minds, but who cares because Trae is awesome and Lil Wayne is actually just rapping the alphabet now and WE ARE STILL LISTENING. Rap music! And while snippets are great, our Shark Week party hangover demands more in the form of Trae rapping over T-Pain jams and "Wipe Me Down." Ta-da! Streets of the South mixtape has all that and a ton more for free right here. Since you're now in full Trae mode, read Nick Barat's Gen F on him from FADER 47 after the jump.

Trae, "I'm So Hood" Remix

Trae, "Shawty" Remix

Trae, "Bartender" Remix

Going Through Some Thangs

The realest raps Trae ever wrote

By Nick Barat

“I never did understand why they always told me to smile,” says Houston rapper Trae. “Shit, ain’t too much shit out here to smile for. Real talk.” This admission comes during the first few seconds of “Smile,” from Trae’s latest album Life Goes On, but it might as well have come from any of the hundreds of tracks in his catalog. In stark relief against the rest of his city’s diamond-encrusted slow flow superstars, Trae specializes in gangsta rap realism—never overly gothic or violent, yet consistently and overwhelmingly serious.

On records like Life Goes On, last year’s under-the-radar favorite Restless and numerous independent releases, Trae paints a tense Houston dystopia of gang loyalties, Federal investigations and constant finger-on-trigger readiness. Even his candy paint anthems like Restless bass invader “Pop Trunk Wave” feel overcast by a cumulonimbus the size of the entire Southside. Trae has a deep voice that sounds screwed in real time, and when he uses it to bust out a rapid, Twista-esque flow on songs like “Real Talk,” the combination sounds like little else in rap. Yet the appeal of his music is emotional, not technical. Maybe you didn’t know that Trae’s older brother (and earliest musical inspiration) Dinkie is serving three consecutive life sentences, or that he has lost countless friends and collaborators—from DJ Screw to HAWK—throughout his career. But when you listen to Trae on a song like “Smile,” you feel his world-weariness: It's like this part of the life I live is damn near mastered/ The mo' people I love, the mo' they get took away faster.

Still, Life Goes On features some of Trae’s least downbeat material to date, from the Lloyd and Rich Boy collab “Ghetto Queen” to the self-explanatory “Bustin Out The Escalades” featuring trappers Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe. I ask Trae if he is consciously trying to avoid being pigeonholed as this intense, severe dude, and he explains, “I do my ‘entertainer’ records. But my reality phase is what people understand.” For every song with a car in its title, you get a “Smile” or the four-minute lyrical sprint “Tha Truth,” Trae’s personal favorite on Life Goes On. “I have good chemistry with Joc, and I’m OK with that approach,” he says. “But I’m gonna do me regardless.”

Posted: July 30, 2007
Audio: Trae, Streets of the South Mixtape