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“I ain’t ’bout that rappin’ shit, but I’ll run you down,” says Fat Trel on “Hyenas,” a highlight from his recently released April Foolz mixtape. The brash Northeast native’s delivery is blunt—-it’s a candid conveyance that lacks the punchlines and metaphors favored by some of his peers—-and his thematic interests are simple and direct: Trel raps about the local drug game and his love of money with a jarring candor that can be tough to listen to.
That honesty, along with an impressively upbeat soundtrack, carries April Foolz—-which is welcome news, since the 20-year-old learned days before the mixtape’s release that he was no longer part of Wale‘s Board Administration imprint. Fat Trel’s manager insists they are still cool with Wale, but guest verses from him and Black Cobain are noticeably absent from the new recording. The two MCs were featured on Trel’s stellar No Secrets mixtape last summer.
No Secrets also felt more reflective than April Foolz, a mostly celebratory project in which Trel raps with venomous intensity about nighttime exploits and material possessions. On “All Krazy” he rhymes about smoking weed and running trains on women. In “Y’all Niggas Ain’t Real,” he takes verbal shots at D.C. police and the District Attorney. He loves strippers: On the R&B-flavored “Angel,” Fat Trel speaks of one named Brittney whom he dated; “Tip A Strippa” details a liquor-filled night with his crew at the strip club.
There’s a respectable authenticity to Fat Trel’s street vernacular, which might explain his rapid rise up the local ranks. Above all, Trel’s new recording is a dark journey through D.C.’s underbelly, spoken with a slurred dialect and full of regional references. On “Angel,” he takes Brittney to the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo while “Y’all Niggas Ain’t Real” references prostitution in Mount Rainer, a small town just outside the city. But while April Foolz has the DMV at heart, the appeal is broad enough for any town. Fat Trel’s music should genuinely connect with the have-nots and the nonchalant, and plenty of people in between.