It's a bittersweet day for Trae tha Truth. On November 25, 2011, Trae's best friend, Dominic "Money Clip D" Brown was fatally shot outside of a club in Houston, Texas. It's a day that Trae would've spent isolated in mourning had he not decided to drop his new I Am King mixtape as a tribute.
"With this, it was no coincidence. It was meant to come out November 25 because you know it marks the anniversary of my brother Clip, when he was murdered," Trae explained to MTV News. "It's sort of a bittersweet thing. I call it the worst of both worlds."
Trae's original plan was to forego a mixtape release this year so he could concentrate on his first album since signing with T.I.'s Grand Hustle label. While he was on tour with Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and Tip on this summer's America's Most Wanted Tour, the self-proclaimed Street King and Screwed Up Click alum decided to give his fans some free music — after all, it's what Clip would've wanted.
"I feel like it's only right for me to feed them and give them a gift and one of my biggest fans — it's crazy — was Clip," he said.
I Am King is anchored on the loud and boisterous "Hold Up." In addition to guest verses from T.I. and Young Jeezy, Diddy peppers the track with lively ad-libs.
The new tape proves that Trae has come a long way since he first started making a name for himself alongside his ABN partner Z-Ro back in 1998. "Stay Trill" finds the gravelly voiced rapper playing with melodies alongside Krayzie Bone and Roscoe Dash. On "I Believe" Trae bears his soul, spitting "Just hope I last to see it, my past been a disaster/ Got shot once, but I'm still here, my smoke clearing up faster."
Trae raps with a heavy heart, but to stop rapping in the light of Clip D's death wouldn't sit right for the veteran. "He didn't even get to see me do the Grand Hustle move and I think knowing how much he believed in me and how much he believed one day the world will embrace my sound, I feel like it's the right timing," he said. "I feel like if I'mma give it my shot, I'mma give it a shot and rep for him the way I need to rep for him.
"I Am King is here to make a statement in general," Trae finished, "in the memory of my brother."