Believe me, it is difficult to praise a twenty-three track odyssey that is based on the exhausted theme of hustling. Regardless, I feel like I must try. T.R.U.B. talks a lot of smack, on the topic of gun-clapping as well as general arrogance, but he is pretty good at it. There is a complete lack of witty one-liners, as he focuses instead on worn, disappointing lines such as calling someone funny like Ali G. He has a powerful voice, though, and his flow is occasionally remarkable. A late freestyle demonstrates his natural skill, but he is either too lazy throughout most of the album, or has never thought to venture away from his preconceptions about what a rapper should be.
There are moments of creativity, but the vast majority of this disc does not stray from its theme. The opening songs, including “Get Loot,” “We Hood,” and “Green,” are purely concerned with the hustle. Nothing on “G.O.D.â€™s Army Presents T.R.U.B.” is heavily influenced by club leanings, but he caters to the party atmosphere a little. “Get Loot” features an excited chanting of the title over gloomy but amped strings, and T.R.U.B. carries his voice up a notch to coincide with the hook. “We Hood” is characterized by slightly bouncy but equally menacing production courtesy of Da Publicist, who laces the vast majority of the album. The surprising “Itâ€™s a Party” is equally bass-ridden and hauntingly melodic, and T.R.U.B. demonstrates promising charisma in rapping about his jaunts with various women. His work on the hook is what really makes the song, though, as he shouts playfully over the thumping piano.
“Young and Wild” retreads familiar territory, but guest Remo and T.R.U.B. are having noticeable fun over a sparse bounce beat. Problems begin to arise with the posse cut “Remind Me of U.” The production resembles “Young and Wild” far too much, and the hook is just lazy and unnecessary. Conversely, the following “Skeeoohs” has an excellent hook but not much else. “Perdicaments,” which is hopefully a typo on the CD case, is solid but not exceptional. There are occasional flashes of conceptual thinking, exemplified on “24.” Here, T.R.U.B. gives a narrative of a typical working day, showing a true affinity for storytelling. He already has the make-up to be great, and “24” demonstrates that he also has the mind.
T.R.U.B. is sometimes about more than the hustle and flow, as he proves on “Destiny.” Here, over an uncharacteristic electric guitar loop, he gets philosophical in explaining his daily motives. The obligatory “Old School” is thankfully more than just a reminder of how things used to be. Again, T.R.U.B. eschews his macho faÃ§ade and just talks, and since his flow is already so nice he sounds lovely and provokes thought.
Fort he most part, Da Publicist lets T.R.U.B. down. The production is heavy on bumping bass, but more harmonic elements are forgotten in the barrage of aspiring street club music. He occasionally crafts a beat that channels the Havoc of ten years ago, and when he does the results are ominous and T.R.U.B. sounds nicer as well. The length of the LP hurts Da Publicist more, because he struggles to create something new as the album plays out. On any record, twenty three songs is overkill, although the running time is just over an hour. T.R.U.B. develops a consistent and somewhat riveting voice, however, so the production is easily the more tiresome of the two.
I get so many lengthy albums to review, and my response is always the same: trim something. In this case, a twelve-track album consisting of the finer moments from both rapper and producer would have been fire, but the mishmash of material that constitutes this record is drastically overlong. There is no terrible music, no complete throwaways, but to expand this album to such length was a mistake. T.R.U.B. is pretty nice already, though, and with a little refinement and more focused, thought out rhymes, his name should be up in lights.