I’ve always found hip-hop to be a very fine line to balance from the artist’s perspective. As fans we don’t seem to know exactly what we want from our favorite artists a lot of the time. Do we want them to be huge superstars who every one else appreciates? Well of course. That being said we can simultaneously ridicule that same artists for taking the necessary steps to reach said level.
It’s not as prevalent as it once was in the culture, but still an artist never wants to be looked at as a “sellout”. You don’t want your core fans to feel as though you’ve strayed to far away from what they originally loved in hopes of reaching higher numbers on the charts. Some care more than others about this but I don’t think it’s farfetched to say it rests in the minds of most MC’s.
Even on a more local scale this seems to be the case, as a conversation dealing with the topic inspires Jackson, Mississippi’s Trumpcard on his new LP: “The name of the album was originally the name of a group my brother (Brocko), sister (b.kingthegoat) and me were in. It fell apart and I just kept making the songs and kept the name. My brother told me I should try to make more accessible music and write more songs geared towards performing and “getting on”. Every song title is vague on purpose or is something that probably doesnt sound like what the listener would think it would.”
A little percussion courtesy of 5th Child kicks off “Sellout” with Trumpcard instantly getting to the bars. It sets the tone perfectly with the MC taking the chance to vent about family matters, floss on his opposition and more. It ends with a bit of dialogue further tying together the album’s concept.
“Black on Black” carries a bit of the classic southern sound to it. Trumpcard comes with a catchy hook that carries more of a modern sound. On the verses he is impeccable as usual, sneaking in some bars referencing the power of black people in-between some witty lines.
One of my favorites from the early portion of “Sellout” is “Chain To Church”. The record is equal parts stunting on haters and discussing religion. I love the duality and imagery displayed here and would love to see a visual for this record. Trumpcard displays more of a laid-back flow on “Chain To Church” and it works well for him.
Things get reflective on the next song which is obvious by the title, “Remember:Reminisce”. The track is a two-part offering that starts with Trumpcard flowing over some production that is reminiscent (pun intended) of the classic southern sound of 8Ball and MJG. Though it screams chevy-music the reflective nature of his lyricism also makes the track have good substance that sticks to the rib. On the second portion of the record he declares he “doesn’t want to remember anymore”, instead opting to reminisce. From there he writes from a totally different perspective, speaking as a younger version of himself and caps the record perfectly.
Trumpcard steps away from the more deep-rooted thoughtfulness on “Shame On Me” and “Aye Ya”, bringing more light-hearted vibes with him. “LeLe’s Theme” changes the pace as the album’s first love song. Now when you think of love songs I can promise you the sound here is not what is expected. The production is more fit for a strip club, the lyrics are very poetically laid out though. He loves LeLe and is unabashed in spelling it out for the listener.
The pen game of Trumpcard is put on display again with “Dopeman”. Here he is personified as your local neighborhood trapstar. b.kingthegoat joins him, giving him a soulful hook to rock with. 5th Child not only produces this one but he appears for a dope 16 as a featured guest as well.
Donchedidit kicks off the first of several tracks he produces on “Sellout” with the low-key sounds of “Double Tap”. We all know how life in these social media streets can be. Well the longing for double tap’s and likes is what inspires the record here. Love the hook here but honestly I would have loved a feature to change the pace of the track a bit.
A clear album standout follows with “I Wanna Be A Killer”. Without even giving you some extensive breakdown it can be put simply: BARS. Trumpcard again flexes his muscle as an MC. D.O.L.O. features and kills the track as well. This is another I’d love a visual for in the future.
Trumpcard takes his stab at production more reminiscent of Jazz on “Change The World/Stay Down”. He begins with some uplifting words about how we can all change the world through faith. The latter portion of the record brings more of a somber tone which brings good contrast. There is a bit of a ying and yang factor on this one.
“Dats Why” is an experiment in cause and effect as much as it is a rap record. On it Trumpcard gets a bit introspective looking at certain traits and moments of his life and what caused them. As with most of the LP it’s another well-written track.
The LP closes out with the title track, “Sellout”. It’s essential one last flex of skill for Trumpcard as he again attacks the track with lyrical excellence. While I do feel that the record could have been a bit more conceptual, revolving around selling out and what it’s like navigating that line as an artist, it’s still a strong track.
Overall I would say that “Sellout” is a near perfect album from the perspective of an underground lyricist. Trumpcard is able to navigate the line between catchy, modern records and supreme lyricism that packs a message. 5th Child, Donchedidit & Brocko do a great job at curating the backdrop for the lyricism with their beats. I also love that the project seems to have serious thought put into it. From the sequencing to subject matter, you can tell Trumpcard took his time here and the results are well worth it.