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Fat Trel‘s Nightmare on E St., the most-anticipated local hip-hop mixtape in some time, finally arrived today, following several months of delays and enough hype to suggest the 21-year-old could be D.C.’s next big rap export. Nightmare on E St. was recorded around the United States and features appearances and beats from Lex Luger, Big K.R.I.T., Kirko Bangz, The Slutty Boyz, Tabi Bonney, Raheem DeVaughn, and more. Stakes are high, basically, but we’re not rushing to judgement. A full review will be in next week’s Washington City Paper; for now, here are instant reactions from Joe Warminsky, Joe Colly, Carlos Perez, Marcus J. Moore, and Jonathan L. Fischer.
Download the tape for free here, or stream it below.
1. Intro: Slightly ominous, mildly corny. Obligatory mentions of ecstasy pills, his label, pussy. Statement of purpose: “This is for the goons right here, worldwide.” (JW)
2. By the Way: We wrote about this song before; it’s still a strong and a solid introduction to the tape’s mix of melody and grit. Wildlife mentioned: Iguanas, anacondas, piranhas, llamas. (JC)
3. White Cocaine: Trel polishes up his raps about fiends in hallways and slinging crack for Cali producer Khan’s radio-conscious beat, which is buoyed by an almost-dubstep baseline. Somehow (probably the cocaine) it manages to be one of the hardest tracks on the tape, even if it’d fit comfortably next to Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.”(CP)
4. Geetchie: Offset by Lex Luger’s hulking percussion and trunk-rattling bass, this song is typical Trel: popping pills, having sex, flaunting models. “I got some models, a bottle, my stripper bitches wit me,” Trel raps. Don’t be surprised if you hear this at Stadium. (MJM)
5. Deep in the Game: Harry Fraud’s snaky piano instrumental is more Konami than anything else. Trel rhymes “white,” “white,” and “sucking dick all night.” (JLF)
6. Runnin’: The persistent synth riff and the splashy percussion bring the glitz, but the verbals are all about the pressures and annoyances of mid-level street entrepreneurship. Key line: “Pay my lawyer when I can/When I do, he understand.” (JW)
7. Bros: Obligatory posse cut, featuring P Wild, Meatchi, Dew Baby, and Boosa Da Shoota. Beat’s a Luger rip but it bangs. Trel’s success means we’ll hear more from the other Slutty Boyz, so it’s good to know they don’t suck. (JC)
8. Paper Bag Magic: This isn’t the first time Trel’s shown an affinity for the plastic, sliding-scale synths more closely associated with the neon L.A. club scene, though “Paper Bag Magic” doesn’t shove it front and center quite as much as the previously leaked “Rolling.” The catchy drugs ‘n’ guns hook is a pièce de résistance, and makes for the least obvious grab at radio on the mixtape. (CP)
11. On Top of Your Girl: If you sped up the beat, it could be an Asian pop hit. Animated cats and shit like that. At this speed, though, it’s just Trel and guest rapper Meatchi acting like cuddly dogs who will gladly do things to your girl. Hide the glow sticks, yo. (JW)
12. Benning Road (Flyer Than You): A sunny nostalgia jam, sort of a hyperlocal trap-rap take on Ahmad’s “Back in the Day.” Synths ache, chorus soars on some “Float On”-level uplift. Love this. (JC)
13. Fuck Around: KIRKO BANGZ! You’ve heard of Kirko Bangz, right? He’s that guy that wrote two sing-songy rap songs and turned both into radio hits? I bet you’ve heard of Kirko Bangz. Kirko Bangz. (CP)
16. Find My Way: Look! It’s the Shirtless One soaring through the clouds, hand-in-hand with Raheem DeVaughn! The angels are playing pianos and electric guitar! Wale is probably down in Waldorf somewhere, wondering why he wasn’t asked to rap on this. (JW)
17. Murder: NSFW sex ode sampling Rihanna’s “Unfaithful.” Slightly out of Trel’s street life-and-drugs comfort zone, but it gives the tape an added dimension of raunch. (JC)
18. Nightmares: The last in a string of four or five songs Trel’s more street-minded fans will probably skip more often than not. David Correy’s alright-enough Chris Brown impression dulls Trel’s usual tongue-in-the-butt-all-wild edge into “Baby, please don’t leave me” R&B fodder. (CP)
19. Up In Here. Trel gets back to what he does best: dark trap rap that feels abrasive and authentic. This time, he gets help from Brooklyn MC Red Cafe, whose wordplay sets the song on an impressive course. Then Trel takes over: “Careful how you greet me, bitch I smell like Northeast/And you not rockin’ ‘Posites so, fuck it, I want your Jeep.” (MJM)
20. Devil We Like: Folks’ll be talking about this one. Boss Major provides precisely the kind of heavy-pathos, dark-clouds beat that usually goes with this kind of panoramic ‘hood fatalism, but the execution is tense and immaculate. First verse concerns unapologetic drug-slinging; second gets bleaker (“babies die on the street, body lie on the streets, coroners on every corner”); third ties it together (“I can never say “finished”). (JLF)
21. Kill Em: A dip to the dark side, but the two-man journey is more like a group therapy session gone awry than a classic game of misanthropic one-upmanship: Trel and guest Chris Bo use the words “feel” and “feeling” a lot, and the beat by Lil’ Lody offers subdued drama, not interjections. (JW)
22. Nightmare (Outro): Trel at his most ruminative. After describing various neighborhood atrocities, he offers some internal conflict: “I ain’t talkin’ like that shit was all right,just hippin’ you to what we do when no police on site.” (JC)