After an eventful summer and signing a distribution deal with Sony RED, Virginia-born rapper TruthCity is back again with his sophomore album While You Were Sleeping. Sonically the album is already a departure from the light, airy, often jazzy instrumentals of The Prologue. Rather, TruthCity and his approach to this album paints a dense, melancholy landscape—an empty, desolate city.
As with all deep meditation, While You Were Sleeping begins inside of the rapper. He examines his life and the choices he’s made up to this point: becoming homeless (as a result of unreliable people in life), quitting an unfulfilling job, being robbed by someone he trusted, promises never kept, etc. In the opening, his mother permeates the track with firm but loving advice about life and perseverance. Complimented with soulful riffs, high-hats, and electric guitar strums in the background, his mother's voice guides us—and the rapper himself—through his turmoil.
With synthesized beats, TruthCity paints a desolate metropolis which he tours in “The City.” He reminiscences on old friends, some who have been locked up and some who are no longer with us. The track was too stagnant and could have used more variation in terms of lyrical deliverance. The succeeding track “Alone” begins with overlapping voices which mimics the rage and resent the artist feels in the midst those who left him at his most vulnerable moments. Some of the lyrics & his inflections in this particular track are very similar to Drake, which I find a shame because I believe this emerging artist is much more talented than the Canadian rapper. The overlapping of voices is done to excess when Bzoe, a member of TruthCity’s ground team, speaks next. This manipulation of voices demonstrates a chaos and dissonance in the rapper’s mind, it doesn't do much to enhance or propel the track forward. I found disorientating in a way that doesn't do much except be disorientating.
The album’s title song “While You Were Sleeping" is a clever Double-Dutch of lyrics: “They didn't pick me to go out on tour / turned around and I started my own / Mr. TeamBackPack, bringing rap back / Virginia snap back on / I can kill a trap track / ain't a track that I cannot black on.” One line that was a complete knock-out: "The Hustle Cannot Be Sold”; however, it takes such so long to get to the best part of the song. The rapping feels lazy in comparison to what we’ve of heard out of this artist.
"The Family", as featured on The Source comes in with haunting, macabre violin and piano which is vaguely reminiscent of Kanye’s “All Of The Lights Interlude”. This one, much like the title song, is about tough, declarative, and seemingly reactive statements about other rappers in the game who he doesn’t care for or have respect for. The choice to have these tracks together seems fitting because their focuses complement each other, but also I am concerned that these bravado displays play into the hand of his adversary.
Overall, the album is moody, but begins to lighten towards its conclusion. Tonal shifts between the artist's first project and While You Were Sleeping can be interpreted as seasons. So far what we have seen of TruthCity is his bodies of work mimic that of the seasons, if The Prologue was fall ushering us into summer then While You Were Sleeping is winter leading us into spring. Still, I found the ending to be…anti-climactic, but that is only because The Prologue II is in production and this project was to fill in the space between. The artist is in transition and shedding his skins which is why the project was made. It then begs the question: Did TruthCity really make a point by letting these phony rappers know he doesn’t fuck with them?
The track I found the most engaging was “Consistency” and what I need from this artist is to begin branching away from his tropes for fear they could become his own clichés.
FINAL RATING: 3.5 / 5