10. Trae Tha Truth, I Am King You can't keep a good asshole down. If Trae Tha Truth could be compared to any figure outside of rap, he'd be akin to The Undertaker -- never stopping, always coming and always present. From the onset, I Am King felt like a victory lap for the ABN leader, one where the massive, star-studded guest list understands who the star of the show is.
That gravelly baritone doesn't dance around on "Fucked Up" or the hyper "1 Up," where Wiz Khalifa does his best to stretch every ending syllable to perfection, or on the haunting "Dark Angel" with Kevin Gates. I swear those two were made to craft some seriously somber, depressing shit.
9. Dustin-Prestige, Dharma "It's not a catharsis project," Dustin-Prestige tried to tell me when I got an early hand on Dharma; for a while, I couldn't see it as anything but. Last year's Plaid toyed around with the idea that Prestige could dive into a realm of highly emotive raps based around relationships, guilt, success and failure.
Dharma in essence capitalizes on that with such an oddball flair that his sing-song rat-a-tat makes him sound like a baritone Donny Hathaway when discussing matters of the heart. Dharma's storyline revolves around our Mr. Prestige falling in and out of love, and the consequences that goes with it.
8. Maxo Kream, QuiccStrikes At its heart, QuiccStrikes is the most uninhibited street tape from within Houston's city limits: nothing but tales of capers, gunshots being popped off and threats shrouded within hints of black comedy. Maxo Kream doesn't hide his allegiances or how often he'll line somebody up to be robbed for his own enjoyment.
Here he turns into the most diabolical man in existence, aware of his own evils yet indifferent to changing a single thing about him. He bounces hyperbolic threats on "Whitney Houston" while on the far more sinister "Lewinsky," Maxo sits back and watches -- a first-person account of taking whatever he wants without any sense of remorse.
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7. Roosh Williams, deja roo: Times Have Changed By title alone, Roosh Williams' last mixtape could have been rather pedestrian, modest even. Then here, trapped in a Hannibal Lecter mask and plenty of one-man firepower he unleashed the year's best tape opener and didn't look back. Conceptually, its Roosh at his best, mind-bending punchlines wrapped inside a bit of bro humor and battle-rap bravado.
Throw in a few guest appearances from Scarface ("Bets On Me"), Bubba Sparrxx (lead single "Fraudulent") & Action Bronson ("It's A Beautiful Thing") along with layered production from The Stompboxx among others and it settles out as the top Roosh tape yet.
6. The Outfit, TX, Cognac/Four Corner Room How utterly ambitious. Two of the three members of The Outfit (Mel and Dorian) figured to splinter their collective talents into one eye opening and fully engrossing LP. Cognac/Four Corner Room takes the two things that work for The Outfit, TX -- their quirkiness and those high-snare, space-behemoth beats emulating the funk of OutKast and the gutter gravel of 8Ball & MJG.
Dorian's production on Four Corner Room obviously dug into Yeezus like screeches and growls but on Mel's Cognac, the sounds remain just as loud and ice-grill-worthy as anything on Starships & Rockets.
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