Here's what you have to appreciate about Trae: He will always let his feelings be known. Always. Always.
You've got a better chance of finding someone in Houston to say something nice about Mike Jones than you do of Trae holding his tongue. Whether that's an intricate personality quirk that has been nurtured over the course of a lifetime of hard living, or simply just the way he was built from birth, is inconsequential; for better or worse, that's the way he is today. That's what drives him.
And the best songs in his catalog, the ones that seem really profound, are the instinctive ones, the ones doused in unchecked emotion, bare and open enough that even the most painful or solemn track seeps a certain amount of tenderness. People connect with that kind of authenticity.
Which is why everyone suspected that Can't Ban Tha Truth, the full-length battle cry aimed squarely at his year-long archnemeses that he and his camp have been pumping up the last two or so months, had the potential to be a very powerful project.
In short, it is. Lupe Fiasco is on there. Wyclef is on there. Garfield, that obscure rock band from the 70s, is on there. Pimp C and his mother, in what will surely prove to be two very controversial monologues, are on there. We'll get all into the proper "Where Does It Rank Relative To Trae's Entire Discography?" and "What Are The Potential Historical Implications Of This Album?" conversations in a subsequent post here in this space shortly.
But the purpose for now is simple: Today, we're leaking Can't Ban Tha Truth's almost Luther Vandross-ian, horns-and-synths-guided effort called "Cop a Drop." So...
Identifying the song's place in Trae's catalog is simple: It is a logical maturation of "Swang," the standout track from 2006's Restless.
Aesthetically, the two are similar in their intent - the whole riding in a car as a metaphor bit; the reverie production; the immediate seriousness.
However, though nuanced, there are several key differences between the two, the most noteworthy of which being the apparent revelation forced onto Trae by The Ban that not everyone operates under the same set of rules he does (i.e. you don't dick people over when they're being dicked over).
It sucks tremendously for him - imagine that you just found out that your core belief, the barometer you use to distinguish right from wrong, means poo to the majority of the people you associate with - but proves a powerful accelerant for change.
In "Swang," Trae's role is clear: Be menacing as shit. People no doubt remember that song for being soul crushing in its barefaced hurt, but that mostly came at the expense of the irony of HAWK's verse and subsequent death. In "Cop A Drop," Trae is the key figure, his own anguish front and center.
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The entire song is delivered with Trae sounding to be under an immense amount of pressure. The lyrics have evolved switched from the wide-ranging threats of "Swang" ("I'm lethal, fully loaded, ain't no taking my ride, mayne") to pinpoint assertions that he has been abandoned ("When others left the hood, [I] stayed to catch perfect attendance").
It's a point crystallized by the fact that he references himself as part of a rap collective six times in his two verses in "Swang" (via "we," "us," etc), but does it exactly zero times in his three verses in "Cop A Drop."
"Cop A Drop" is not better than "Swang," but that doesn't appear to have been the intention. It's an extension of it. And measured as such, it's pretty damned impressive.
Keep it steady here for a forthcoming full breakdown of the entire Can't Ban Tha Truth tape, including tidbits from Pimp C's tirade that probably won't do much for The Box's public image, information on which people were specifically called out on wax and a new contender for the "Name The Top 6 Songs Of Trae's Career" debate.