Trife Diesel aka Trife da God has paid his dues contributing solid supporting verses to every Ghostface solo LP since Supreme Clientele as well as putting in work as part of Ghost's secondary crew, the Theodore Unit. Regardless, the sheer quality of Trife's first solo LP comes off as surprising. This is not to say that the man's past work is at all subpar, but when an MC carves out a career playing second fiddle to Ghostface, his skills tend to get overlooked. But given a chance at center stage, Trife turns in a stellar performance, working his "golden voice" and "flow like the Potomac" over 16 thorough street-hop tracks. Karma also serves him well, as the supporting players on Better Late Than Never are key to its success; from his Staten Isle cohorts Shawn Wigs, Kryme Life, Tommy Whispers, and Ghost himself to new collaborators like Freeway, Termanology, and Royce da 5'9", every guest MC does his thing. But it's the record's production team -- made up mostly of unknowns like Animal House, Bean One, DJ Snips, and Quincey Tones -- that come up biggest, putting together a strong collection of neo-Wu beats built on haunting '60s soul samples ("Project Leaders," "Direct from the Ghetto" , heavy drums and soaring string arrangements ("We Get It In," "Prey vs. Predator"), and piano cheese and chipmunk soul ("Heads or Tails" and the title track). Concept-wise, the tracks on Better Late Than Never resort to a few hip-hop cliches -- there's a conversational romance-on-the-rocks joint featuring female MC Slash ("What Did I Do Wrong"), a phone-tag joint ("Live Nigga Night Out") with Ghostface and Shawn Wigs, and a heartfelt tribute to Mom ("Mother Like You"), but Trife and company execute nicely. The album's standout cut is the unlikely banger "Blind Man," which examines the lives of the ghetto's blind and pays homage to Ray Charles.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Rinaldi
feat: Kryme Life
feat: Tommy Whispers
feat: Mike Payne