Tauheed Epps' secondary releases throughout 2016 indicated that the rapper was heading toward something special for proper solo album three. Released four months after he became the Grammy-winning 2 Chainz -- Chance the Rapper's "No Problem," featuring him and Lil Wayne, took the award for Best Rap Performance -- this full-length is presented in an offhanded manner that contradicts its magnitude. Pretty Girls Like Trap Music sounds like the title of a tape rather than that of a career high from a rapper who, despite his categorical affiliation and outsize personality, is no mere entertainer. Likewise, the packaging of the compact disc edition is bare, supplying no information beyond the track list and credits for artwork, A&R, and executive production. Inconspicuousness notwithstanding, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is among Epps' most significant and enjoyable work. His raised-voice/grimaced-face mode is more commanding than ever, and whether drawn from the past or present, the word play -- from "Used to treat my mattress like the ATM" to "I bought a Tesla today/There's nothin' left in your tank" -- is consistently vivid. In "Realize," featuring Nicki Minaj, he breaks from glowering to nearly losing his composure as he snaps at the government and his younger mumbling contemporaries. That delivery is just as effective (and comic). As Epps and his collaborators demonstrate the life left in trap music, a form that sounds either bankrupt or uprooted in the hands of many, the album also flashes back. "Trap Check," a highlight, is a laser-focused, easy-rolling track that binds Jeezy's "Get Ya Mind Right" to T.I.'s "ASAP" -- classics that predate even "Duffle Bag Boy," Epps' biggest Playaz Circle hit, and still sound fresh. The album ends with one of rap's most moving poverty-to-prosperity numbers, an elegant Mike Dean production with a reverential introduction from Minister Louis Farrakhan and an ascending hook from Monica. There's more weight to "See my mom was a addict, and my dad was the dealer, and they son is that n*gga" than the average commercial rapper's most profound thought. For Epps, it's just another line, a simple truth.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman