Ryan Trey may hail from St. Louis, hence the “64 East” in the title of “A 64 East Saga,” but if you told someone he was from The 6 they’d believe you instantly. In fact I did a double take listening to his “X6 Intro” because I really thought I was listening to Mr. Aubrey Graham instead of Mr. Trey. The vocal pitch, the laconic delivery, the pauses to change up where the ends of bars fall, the “I put my city on my back” vibe, it’s all there.
The lead single and accompanying video for “Rollin” both prove and disprove this point. They are clearly two visually distinct human beings, but their penchant for alternating between singing and rapping while shit talking about how successful they are (and you aren’t) is indistinguishable. It was an inevitability that Drake’s success would create clones in North America and around the world, but even the way he throws emphasis on specific words and syllables is uncanny. I imagine we’ll see Trey doing a video with Jay & Silent Bob before long. Even their obsession with crooning about the female gender is the same.
“I still hold it down cause you know me/yeah I still hold it down on the regular and low key/Still waking up to different faces/She ain’t trying to settle cause it’s complicated when you not baaaasic.” If you watched the entire run of BoJack Horseman, you may remember the season five episode where BoJack talks about not even feeling real to himself — “a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox.” That’s what I get from “It’s About a Girl” — I’m not sure Ryan Trey knows who Ryan Trey is. I’m not trying to say it sounds bad though. In fact if you’re a fan of Drake you’d be readily inclined to enjoy the sound of “A 64 East Saga” and songs like “Nowhere to Run” featuring Bryson Tiller.
It may be accidental that the album’s closing track is called “Far From St. Louis” but it makes an interesting point all the same. For so many years people associated the sound of the Lou with Nelly and his tendency to make the “ear” in “here” sound like the “ur” in “cure.” As a result a lot of rappers both from and NOT from the area imitated the way Cornell Haynes Jr. spoke to varying degrees of success, but none achieved the level of commercial mainstream exposure Nelly did. In short I’m not saying that Ryan Trey’s album is bad. It’s quite listenable, but it’s also quite unremarkable. Trey doesn’t carve out a niche, he just follows a lane.