Trae and Z-Ro, the strongest, most streamlined version of ABN, have reunited. This we know already. Tuesday, the first leak from their forthcoming album, "R.I.P.," ended up in our inbox. A quick confirmation with Trae via Twitter to make sure that we weren't about to post something that wasn't meant for the ears of the public just yet brought forth a one word response: "Post."
So here it is. And here's a breakdown of why it will, barring a crazy shift in the Houston rap atmosphere, end up listed as being an important music moment in 2011.
- This is the first joint song that Trae and Z-Ro have released together in just about four years. Four years. We speculated at the midpoint of last year that this version of ABN - the best version - would likely never release new music again. It appears we do not possess the ability to tell the future.
- The song is good. It's natural and easy and wrinkle-free, like the twosome didn't spend the last few years pretending like they weren't upset with each other about something. The production is clean and serves as little more than the framework for the song (which is typically what producers aim for, we hear). They immediately step into recognizable variations of their respective ABN roles.
- Ostensibly, the song appears to be about mourning people that have passed (more specifically, it's about the dead getting rest that is peaceful), but it represents a fair amount more than that. The two most significant underpinnings: a) sometimes death serves as metaphor for itself; and b) as absolute as death is, life can be a fair bit harsher.
- Trae spent the better part of the last two years sharpening his lance, if you will. His showing here (willful, solemn, sometimes solemnly willful) is expected. Ro though mostly existed in the background last year, releasing little new music and just generally being elusive.
- He returns here rejuvenated and hearty and as melodic as he's ever been. His movement is effortless. Maturation does not treat a lot of rappers kindly, but both Trae and Ro seem unfazed by the fact that they've been around for more than a decade now. This is unintentionally Bun B's doing, we suspect.
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If we were to assign power animals to Trae and Ro, it'd be as such: Ro, in all of his lonely and masterful menace, would be a shark, hunting and prowling and perpetually moving all in his own, content to pay attention to someone long enough only to either eat them or scare the shit out of them.
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Trae, the leader of a gang of gangs whose very existence seems defined by the number of people he can look after, would be a wolf. Somehow, that's exactly what they sound like on here. There are a few instances in the song where Trae and Ro appear to be giving each other sideways hat-tips, saying things like, "It's always real to recognize your partners while they're still living."
This might be entirely wrong. But it also might be entirely right. Either way, you're probably going to be right if you leech from it that the two have come to some form of genuine appreciation for each other's talents.