Houston has no shortage of legendary MCs, many of their careers stretching decades throughout different waves of hip-hop. Scarface, Juicy J and Bun B just to name a few, are still getting after it in their respective lanes. Trae the Truth, another Houston OG, recently dropped his latest album, Hometown Hero, an ode to his hometown and all that it’s been through.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, Trae wasted no time doing his part to help out those still stuck in their homes, delivering supplies and rescuing people where he could. In one of the crazier stories, the rescuing of Orlando Magic guard Jonathon Simmons, who was stuck at a friend’s house, was credited.

Listening to the album, one can tell the devastation from the flood weighed heavily on Trae’s mind throughout his creative process. The opening track, “What about Us,” featuring clips from a ABC13 news report in Houston, focused on Trae and his volunteerism within the community. His lyricism is sharp over a sparse beat, allocating emotional bars, his deep love for his city and the pain of feeling abandoned to die bursting through. There is no hook on the song, just clips added in from interviews done with people professing their gratitude for Trae.

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Many of the beats on the album clear out when Trae begins rapping. When an artist is spitting real lyrics with emotional depth and intelligence, having a beat that is too banging can detract from their talent.

A beat can hide a lack of real ability, distracting a listener to the point they associate the artist’s talent with the beats that he’s rapping over, ignoring his lyrics. There has been no drop in the quality of rhymes coming from Trae, as they convey deep emotion and conviction.

The album has a few features, artists from the same realm as Trae. Street-wise rappers who spit with wisdom and passion like T.I., Lil Boosie, Mozzy and Young Thug each have verses spread throughout the record. Tales of the struggle are woven beautifully together, touching one’s mind and forcing listeners to take a step back and appreciate the world around them.

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This is one of my favorite albums that I have heard this year — one particularly needed in this climate. Much of our music is possessive, gaudy and self-centered. This album is inspiring, driving listeners to get up and do things that are bigger than oneself. Trae’s passion runs deep, and it becomes clear throughout Hometown Hero just how much he cares about his city and wants to see everyone there succeed.

Hometown Hero is a well put together album that gives the listener a behind-the-scenes look at what is really going on in Houston, and how important Trae’s presence is in the community there.

Rating: 4/5