Trife Diesel :: Better Late Than Never :: Traffic Entertainment
as reviewed by Justin 'Tha Shiznute' Chandler

"Let me take you through this journey of life
Through these bars I write
And introduce you to a poet called Trife..."

These, the first bars of Trife's first official solo "Better Late Than Never" are the perfect introduction to those that have not heard him previously – or have not bothered to remember him from his solid additions to various Ghostface projects as well as his integral part of the collaborative "Put It On Da Line" album.  Being a protégé can be a shadowy grave for a young, aspiring emcee.   For some it comes down to a lack of skill (Murphy Lee, I'm talking to you).  For others it's the endless lack of opportunity (Spliff Star).   Here Trife Da God is running on diesel to make sure that this LP will make his name a headliner.   

While Trife remains pure, raw and uncut on "Better Late Than Never," he still manages to craft quality choruses that help delineate one track from the next.  "Heads Or Tails," for instance, is a perfect example of such a street cut hook:

"There two sides to every coin
Either head or it's tails
So when you gamble with your life
You're either dead or in jail
Get back for a shell
Or your coffin will get nailed
Call it in the air..."

The joint entitled "Respectively" picks up on the same note with Trife talking about hustling and his capitalist agenda of getting money, respectively.  Moreover, this is one of two solid offerings that feature Ghostface, further solidifying the chemistry between the two.   Both come correct, and if it's not a draw, then Trife might actually outshine his superstar Wu-Tang brother with the alliteration he displays to begin his verse:  

"I purposely approach pussy niggas for perpetrating
Pull up in a purple Porsche and get it percolating
Keep hearsts waiting for people in impersonating
First nigga get to hating, I'm sending em straight to Satan..."

It's pure heat, whereas, the second cut together called "Live Nigga Night Out" is one of the few songs that strays from the truly hardcore narrative.  Luckily though, Trife does not sacrifice his image as the diction is still street talk and the beat is an old school soul offering by a producer ironically named Quincey Tones.  

Ghostface is not the only guest on the album – other Wu-Tang affiliates Kryme Life, Tommy Whispers and Wigs make their rounds, as well as other talented artists in the same vein such as Royce Da 5'9, Termanology and Freeway.   Royce, like Trife, once played the protégé role behind Eminem.   I see a lot of parallels between Trife and Royce.  Both stay true to their vision and rhyme with pure hunger.  This results in their work together  on "Powerful Minds" being top-notch (only feeding into the anticipation of Royce's new supergroup project "Slaughterhouse" coming out August 11th).   

Truthfully, there are many more standouts.  Too many to name, really.  The chipmunk vocal sample on "Blind Man" creates a true banger about men overcoming adversity, often with their auditory sense.    "Direct From The Ghetto" is a song that has been thematically done a million or more times but rarely as well, or as believable, as Trife does it.  

I only real detraction from the disc is that sometimes it feels like Trife is overplaying his comfort zone and does not venture away from mid to semi-uptempo bangers.  It's a slippery slope to fault the feature emcee too much for this as he does them to near perfection.  

A protégé no more... it's time for Trife Diesel to get his own shine. This is an album recommended for all those hip-hop heads wanting music that nicely blends Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" with Royce Da 5'9's "Death is Certain."   This Staten Island emcee is the real deal.   Thankfully his solo dropped and if we have to wait as long for a Sophomore release, it'll be better late than never.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10

Originally posted: August 11, 2009