Trae tha Truth

Tha Blackprint Edition

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If the liberated mixtape Tha Blackprint Edition looks like a stopgap street release given a little of that major-label spit shine, it's because that's exactly what it is. Still, the Screwed Up Click founder and arguably the most hostile hood in Houston (check his war with radio station KBXX for the details) had to mark 2012 for better or worse, with a Grand Hustle recording contract and a shooting -- wounding him and killing three of his friends -- both landing in his lap that year. Being a mixtape, Tha Blackprint Edition doesn't attempt to sort out these major life events in any kind of sensible manner, but joy and pain, both amped up high and in equal measures, is something palpable right from the "Intro." The following R. Kelly-assisted "Sick of This Shit" is the frustrated pimp track to pick here, but "Tell Me That I Can't" is an irresistible kind of defiant while "I Run This City" is a winning combination of street thug guts and T-Pain-assisted glitz. Shame that Trae's deadly version of Chief Keef's "Don't Like" didn't make the cut from mixtape to official release, but this is still a welcome blast of the man's spite and ambition, and a good sign he's found his place in the house of Grand Hustle.

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