"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.
Trae tha Truth is one of rap's most imposing, most intimidating figures.
The aesthetic is as mentally true (his eyes are weathered and stern), as it is physically (his hands hang heavy at the ends of his arms like cinderblocks attached to tree limbs), as it is aurally (his speaking voice sounds like someone shoveling gravel). Among other things, he has beaten an unenviable inner city upbringing into near legend status through sheer force of will and presence. Even still, he is getting the snot beat out of him.
Jabs are crumpling his nose, body kicks attempting to snap all of his ribs. His face is covered in blood, his eyes blackened and swollen. He exists only to be pummeled fully, it seems. The only resistance he offers is a toothless claim:
"I'm about to put you to sleep," he says. He is nearly destroyed, but his words are still heavy—you can almost hear them hit the floor.
Trae is sitting in the back of a van playing a mixed martial arts video. His avatar, knockout artist James Irvin, perhaps most famous for the devastating knee he delivered to Terry Martin's jaw in UFC 54 or maybe perhaps most famous for 8-second annihilation of Houston Alexander at UFC Fight Night 13, is near lifeless. He has been picked apart for the better part of the last two minutes by my avatar, Anderson Silva, perhaps the greatest fighter on the planet and probably even the universe.
During the demolition, there has been no small amount of needling taking place. Still, Trae, the only thing he ever responds with, is "I'm about to put you to sleep."
Digital Irvin and Digital Anderson stay engaged in combat. Despite being e-overmatched, Irvin never relents. His hands look like they weigh 1,000,000 pounds. He can barely defend himself. His fate is certain. Death is imminent.
Anderson lands a monstrous right hook that deadens Irvin's legs. He falls to his back and reflexively spiders into what I guess is defensive posture, but looks more like something waiting to die posture.
"I'm about to put you to sleep," is all Trae grumbles.
I click all of the buttons on the controller trying to unlock Anderson's full rage, but nothing. He just stands there, dancing with himself. The most tenacious move he accomplishes is grabbing at the empty air in front of him. His killer instinct is a negative net gain. Digital Anderson is a digital pussy.
After a few moments, Digital Irvin slow motions back to his feet. No worries. His life bar is still near empty and Anderson, perhaps in exchange for a lack of general end all viciousness, is a remarkable defender, and possesses nearly all of his. Victory is a forgone conclusion. The bell only need ring for the judges to deem it so.
Digital Irvin, moving like he's just woken up from a cryogenic slumber, readies to deliver an all-too-obvious kick to the stomach. His heart is admirable. R2 will block it easily. But then, devastation.
When Digital Anderson lowered his elbows and crouched down to protect his ribs, Irvin, with the fury of 1,000 black holes, sprung upwards, his knee connecting RIGHTHEFUCK to Anderson's chin. His legs turned into wet rope and his eyes decided they'd seen enough light. There was nothing for him to do but wilt. His body crinkled down onto itself. He looked like he'd been dropped from an airplane. Digital Irvin didn't even pounce. He knew it was over. E-God rest his e-soul.
I just looked at him, lying there, feeling like whatthefuckbro. And then the salt:
"I told you."
1. Trae tha Truth, "Rollin'"
Trae is one of my all-time favorite rappers. This is the video from his most recent mixtape, the hundred-suns heavy The Blackprint. This video actually came out last month, but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to listen to it about 400 times yesterday. Life.
2. Devin the Dude, "Wut Tha Fuk," featuring Slim Thug and Cory Mo
Devin the Dude is a genius. That's all there is to it, really.
3. Dyme A Duzin, "New Brooklyn"
It seems like all of the great rap boroughs in the country are trying to shake their ways into a new era. That's pretty cool, I'd guess. At least, it is for the new generation of listeners. Everyone needs their own stories, I mean.
4. Action Bronson and Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers
That's 40 minutes of meats and cheeses, yo. DL that immediately.
P.S. Can someone pleasePleasePLEASE make a T-shirt that reads: "Enough about me and more about myself"? Thank you.
5. Gunplay, "Drop"
If you don't spend the next two weeks answering EVERY SINGLE QUESTION with, "I don't know, I just came to drop the sack off," then I don't think you and I are going to be very good friends. I mean, THAT SHIT IS NEVER NOT PERFECT.
6. Cassidy, "Diary of a Hustla"
Cassidy and Meek Mill have been saying not nice things about each on Twitter and whatnot. That's why this is here. Plus, if you ever make a song saying you had sex with someone's someone and that that someone said you needed a dick reduction, then yeah, you're making it into the D&W column. We have a little thing called integrity here at Four Pins.
Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.