Only one objective measuring stick truly matters when it comes to determining the validity of a rapper proclaiming his status as "real": Does he make you feel like a badass? On his latest LP, Life Goes On, Houston's Trae does exactly that. By the time I made it halfway through, I had already punched someone in the head and thrown a glass bottle at a baby. The album reveals Trae, in his overtly pained and to-the-point manner, as a surprisingly versatile artist. He effortlessly navigates beats ranging from futuristic techs to trunk-rattling Southern soul, solidifying his status as one of Houston's most authentic rappers. Highlights include "Give My Last Breath," a chilling internal monologue remembering slain Houston icon Big H.A.W.K.; "Nuthin' 2 A Boss," a raw, synth-laced track with a laid-back grind featuring Slim Thug; and "I'm Good," a stormy, seething track driven by an '80s-style saxophone and eerie piano. Although a hard life isn't exactly thesis material, Trae's pounding, relentless flow possesses a sincere ethos that gives Life Goes On a powerfully destitute realness, and helps it successfully follow up 2006's street staple Restless.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.