If there’s one aspect of a hip-hop artist that affects their style, flow and beats, it’s geography. From the gangsta rap that emerged from the West Coast to the club bangers that came out of the East Coast to the variety of sounds brought about from the South.

Trae Tha Truth finds himself as a bit of an anomaly when it comes to his roots and the style he spits with. Trae comes from Houston, a city known for its trunk-rattling bass and slower beats-per-minute, marketed toward the rather large “lean” scene that the area is known for. The city is also home to T.I.’s Grand Hustle music group, which has a repertoire of artists who either carry on the funky southern sound the Atlanta area has come to embrace or the “trap” style of hip-hop, pioneered by Grand Hustle T.I. himself.

I Am King, Trae’s most recent mixtape release, solidifies the artist’s style and affirms his ability to work within a wide spectrum of production styles and with a variety of artists. Although he has yet to release an album with Grand Hustle, this is an outstanding precursor of things to come.

Trae Tha Truth is by no means a rookie to the game. With more than 10 years of experience and multiple album releases, Trae has been grinding on the Houston scene for many years.

The first thing that stands out on a Trae track is that deep, hypnotic voice reminiscent of a Paul Wall or UGK song of the past. This inflection combined with the oftentimes dry content of the mixtape initially make this tape seem destined to fall into hip-hop redundancy of hip-hop. At first, it doesn’t appear to be anything special.

Getting further into the mixtape though, things began to look up. The mixtape boasts features from such heavy hitters such as Young Jeezy, T.I., Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg (not Lion) and Meek Mill.

It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Trae would not be able to keep up with the high caliber of mixtape’s artists and that he would become background noise. As it turns out, it’s this deep Houston voice that makes Trae stand out. This, along with his willingness to experiment with a variety of beats, results in a dense collage of moods and sounds.

From bangers such as “Hold Up,” “Ride Wit Me” and “1 Up” to flow-intensive songs like “Fucked Up” to the chill, funky “Old School,” I Am King never sees Trae let his all-star features shine over him. He finds a happy medium between sporting quality features while exuding his own unique persona.

It’s always a treat to hip-hop fans when the hunger of a rapper results in a free mixtape that has the same quality of a studio album. I Am King is nothing but quality for Trae, and time will tell if his premiere studio album for Grand Hustle will exceed the quality this mixtape embodies. But in the meantime, download this and revel in the talent of this multifaceted Houston rapper.

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