Although Fat Trel's latest mixtape release has been overshadowed by a shooting that took place at the NYC release party, the music should not be overlooked. On SDMG [Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns], Trel, who hails from the DMV, brings about a sound that is definitely different (more blast-first-think-later) than what people have come to expect based on the region's most popular rap export, Wale.
Trel, a physically and lyrically imposing MC, is at his best when the beat thumps, rattles and claps, like the JGramm-produced thunderous start with the title track "SDMG" and "Going Crazy."
He also shows versatility, switching up his usual flow (hear also "Touch Her Soul") for songs like SDMG standout, "N----z Dying," which features him getting Auto-Tuned for the hook while his verses get Dr. Seussed. "Police is plottin', I see 'em, I watch 'em/If I spot 'em, I got 'em. I shot 'em, I drop 'em/B-----s is tellin' and n----s is wellin'/dreams and drugs, and which is you sellin'?/F**k is you thinkin', my choppers propellin'/Craziest weapon, I shoot at your melon," he raps.
In addition to the chemistry created with JGramm, the rumored MMG/Roc Nation signee brings out more production big guns, hooking up with the king of ratchet, DJ Mustard, for "That's Life," as well as Young Chop, who put it down on "Shoot."
The Kane Beatz-produced "Kalifornia Living" was a classic hip hop daydream track that juxtaposed a smooth piano laden backdrop with gangster tales like, "You wouldn't understand it/If I want it, we demand it/If we ain't touching money, then we touching your family/Investigation standing, posing for the camera/Started out a soldier now I'm a commander." And "Love My Gang" is the quintessential slow beat, fast flow combo that has been a staple in most rappers' arsenals.
The mixtape's vocal features were also well placed. Wale got his Waka Flocka on, turning all the way up for the club banging home-region shout out "WE4MN [Whatever for My N----s]" also featuring Meatchi and Dewbaby from Trel's Slutty Boyz crew and VA's Black Cobain. Elsewhere, Red Café continues to make you wonder why he's not one of hip hop's biggest stars on "My Girl," which also featured a strong contribution from 112's Slim.
But while SDMG is a solid warning shot, it came out about 20-25 minutes too long. Filler tracks like "Willie Dynamite" (which did feature a dope verse from Detroit phenom Danny Brown), the Reggae-infused "The Latest" and "Xtraordinary" halted the tape's momentum. And since most of those songs were on the latter half of the 21-track effort, it took away from the building excitement of the dynamic first half.
The other drawback, which will hopefully be remedied as Trel matures, is the content. Unlike Trel's flow, his approach to exploring the subjects of sex, drugs, money and guns shows very little versatility, and again, with a track list that nearly doubles most mixtapes, it can get old fast.
All that said, Trel establishes himself as a big presence to be on the lookout for in 2014. If this is what he's doing on the mixtape, expectations should be pretty serious for the album.
(Photo: Fat Trel Music)