If anybody wrote The Book of Trill, it’s Pimp C and Bun B, and indeed lately the latter has been heard defending UGK’s rights in regards to the term ‘trill.’ That was before Zilla dropped “The Book of Trill,” but chances are the Trill O.G. won’t be too mad at the way the Alabama artist pays tribute to the sound of the South on his new EP.
I purposely say ‘sound’ because “The Book of Trill” is foremost a musical treat. It’s a delicious serving of the modern soul food cuisine whose currently most famed chef is Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. The kitchen staff for “The Book of Trill” consists of three members of Huntsville production team Block Beattaz – Bossman, Cees and R.Dot -, as well as Lil Ced, who leads a band of guitars, horns and pianos on the bluesy-funky title track that kicks off the proceedings. Big Pope provides an urging sung hook as Zilla gets down to the nitty-gritty in vintage southern fashion, with both a sense for dramatization and contemplation:
“My momma down, bout with cancer and my brother trippin’
On top of that I heard my righteous partner loose-lippin’
These hoes come, these hoes go, see I don’t sweat ’em, though
Just break the bitch, get what you want, my nigga, let her go
Dirty world, ain’t it? Plus these ’90s babies wildin’
But we ain’t teach ’em no better – oh well I’m still smilin’
Accumulate my funds, gotta leave some for my kids
Daddy ain’t worth shit if daddy doin’ a bid
Take it from me – them streets ain’t for everybody
These niggas sour, get jammed up and tell on everybody
Say you a killa? You thorough? You one hunnid?
I’m laughin’ at you, young’n, what you doin’ I been done it”
The next cut, “From the Souf,” beats a dead horse much like the K.R.I.T. song “Cool 2 Be Southern” did. At this point in hip-hop, is it really necessary for southern artists, especially the younger generation, to insist on them being different? Either way the strongest argument for the track’s southernness is made by Bossman, who assembles an ingenious hook by combining angelic choir vocals with a slowed and chopped rap phrase. He also produces the snappy “Erry Witcha Way (Gettin Money),” making sure the track isn’t overloaded yet still eventful.
Fellow Block Beatta Cees pulls down the shades on “Changes”, lighting a slow burning concoction of trippy ’70s soul which Zilla graces with the same veteran flair as the previous tracks. Bossman and Bransen Edwards team up for the super smoooth “Day by Day,” again crafting a great chorus by combining live and sampled vocals. The R.Dot-produced “On My Own” brings things back to the present with an AutoTuned hook and slowly swirling synths. But don’t think that Zilla is in any way slow in his thinking:
“What don’t kill ya only make you stronger – know that
I ain’t come this far, waste all that time – to go back
I been down, bad, with no help
Couldn’t blame nobody but myself
Can’t expect nobody to lend a hand when you ain’t tryina help yoself
Get up off yo ass, make somethin’ shake
Chase that paper till your damn feet ache
Get that cheese, fuck them rats
Cut yo grass and kill all snakes
They still gon’ hate…
But that come with the game, you must be doin’ somethin’ right
Sky’s the limit, we gon’ get that, young’n, but it ain’t gon’ happen overnight
Shit take time, gotta grind, stay down until you come up
Stay humble, gotta give respect to get it back and increase yo karma
See I spit game, drop knowledge
Fuck the streets, go to college
They tried to tell me the same thing, but my cool ass ain’t acknowledged
So learn from me:
You hit 25, you a O.G.
Stay focused, handle biz, and when you make moves, make ’em low-key
A little food for thought: See smart is the new G
But they think I’m dumb cause I got tattoos and gold teeth”
The Block Beattaz and their “surround sound production” have previously been singled out on this site on the occasion of G-Side’s “Starshipz and Rocketz.” Three years later (during which they produced for the likes of Freddie Gibbs and Stalley) their output is still of high quality. It translates the classy sound Rap-A-Lot Records discovered circa 1994 to modern times and joins the adjectives cool and southern in perfect unsion, ultimately proving K.R.I.T. and his “Cool 2 Be Southern” right. Zilla isn’t quite a thinker of K.R.I.T.’s, Devin’s or Eightball’s caliber, still “The Book of Trill” is a rock-solid offering for fans of that reflective, soulful southern rap music.