Trae Tha Truth has been in the game for a decade and a half, coming up with Houston's Screwed Up Click. He's getting national attention in 2013 via his association with T.I.'s Grand Hustle Records. I Am King is his third tape this year, and Grand Hustle's pulled out all the stop for it. The tape spills over with high profile features—Diddy, Jeezy, T.I., Meek Mill, Snoop Dogg, Lupe, Jadakiss, Lil Reese, Kevin Gates, Yo Gotti, Big K.R.I.T., B.o.B., Tory Lanez—and boasts an impressive production roster that includes Boi-1da, Jahlil Beats, League Of Starz, Dun Deal and Honorable C Note. Trae holds his own amid the pomp and circumstance. As always, his flow is spell-bindingly acrobatic, though not showily so, and with his pained rasp, he could be considered one of the forefathers of this year's "sad boys" trend. At the same time, at moments the abundance of flashy features can feel distracting. Trae shines on his own, without any over-accessorizing.
Highlights: The "Bette Davis Eyes"-sampling (or approximating) and Kevin Gates-featuring "Dark Angel," a melodramatic addition to the Best Sad Rap 2013 list on which Gates admits that he's so depressed he can't get hard anymore. The super-soft "Halo," which sounds like The Weeknd meandering into smooth jazz and features Tory Lanez.
WTF: Was there some illuminati mandate this year that ruled Wiz Khalifa has to be included on literally every mixtape?