Tag Archives: fat trel

two bars three stars: fat trel, “nightmare on e street”

17 Apr

I would normally feel slightly guilty for not reviewing a highly anticipated new mixtape until a few weeks after it drops– however– when said mixtape was slated for release in fall 2011 and has been endlessly hyped for far longer, it’s hard to feel badly about dragging my feet a bit.

Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be a DC music blog worth its chops if I didn’t write about the rapper/social media phenomenon known as Fat Trel. Homegrown in Northeast with the hood mentality to prove it, TrelĀ  is hailed by some as the first messiah of DC hip hop. As I’ve mentioned on the blog previously, it is an oft-debated travesty that, despite all logic, DC has failed to produce a legitimate hip hop super star since… ever, really. (Unless you count Wale and his phony Maryland bullshit, which I don’t).

Now, not everyone (myself included) is fully convinced that Trel will live up to this hype. However, one can’t deny that his flow, street cred, and overall commanding presence are 100% legit. He’s overly aggressive, beyond graphic, immature, and somewhat goonish, but he is undoubtedly an excellent performer with booming delivery that immediately draws your attention. His rhymes are smart and some of his wordplay recalls early Lil Wayne cleverness, even if his subject matter is limited (drugs, hos, guns, repeat).

All of these hints of greatness paired with untapped potential made Trel’s most recent mixtape, Nightmare on E Street, one of the most anticipated releases in recent DC music history. Controversy surrounding Trel’s management and legal troubles delayed the release countless times, which only seemed to amplify the hype. But on March 26, the public finally got to listen to the mixtape Trel’s been tweeting about ~100X a day for months and months. With this extensive piece of work finally in our hands, it seems the only conclusion anyone can come to on Trel is: the jury is still out.

Nightmare displays those same moments of genius that make Trel so intriguing, along with some exciting, well-executed collaborations with big names from the national scene (Big K.R.I.T., for one). However, it is also frustratingly unedited (22 tracks and 1.5 hours long- forreal?!) and at times unfocused. Trel tries his hand at too many different directions, with some clear missteps along the way- most notably toward boneheaded swag rap, such as in “Benning Rd.” (an ode to hood life) or “On Top of Your Girl” (no explanation needed).

Less-than-stellar tracks are inevitable, though (especially among 22 of them), and there are clear gems on this tape; my personal favorites include the menacing, Big K.R.I.T.-produced “Swishers and Liquor,” as well as the “Devil Inside Me.”

My ultimate recommendation, however, for those who are new to Trel: check out his previous tapes first, especially 2011’s April Foolz. They will give you a clearer view of what (we think) Trel is all about. Then listen to Nightmare, but don’t let it make up your mind one way or the other. Then, do as the rest of us are doing: wait and see what he does next. We might have a real superstar on our hands.



“Swishers and Liquor”