Tru York (Mixtape)

Artist: Tru Life/J-LoveTitle: Tru York (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Rodney Dugue

This is a pretty cute mixtape, cover and all. Well, that's if lime-green hyper-extended male thongs are your type of thing. Sure, the added linen strips and the blonde wig and any horrifically placed couture alignment make for a gussied premium whore. But, perhaps the pageant belongs to LES spawned rapper Tru Life. A careless, ruthless designer by rhyme, Tru Life schemes up ugly, unbelievably dirty fashion to play dress-up with his favorite crew, the Dipset. It's a lot of purposefully mismatching and often credulous rhymes, but it works, as slander always does. Fashion designers are put to shame, but it's great for his mixtape, Tru York hosted by J-Love.

Terrible fashion aside and ignoring all the playful skits ("In Dem Jeans," "Max B Phone Call," "Hip Hop 101 Gameshow Interlude" to name a few) Tru Life has an intolerable animosity and an irascible disposition against anything that looks wrong and you guessed it, those boys from Harlem define wrong so conveniently, "Takin' pictures of jewelry stores like you robbed me, that's not gangsta, that's the hoe-est sh** I've ever seen."

He increasingly relies on seething logic to settle his temper, "I got about 100 chains, some belong to me, some don't," he fumes. It’s a journey in overkill, if you like, but it’s not all about the Dipset; "I Hate Rap" is another politician’s would-be campaign about the innate violence rap engenders, but Life answers to himself with a fine rebuttal, "Look at the facts/Before rap, the jails were packed with Latins and blacks." The beautiful sparkling intro features Jay-Z bursting his swagger in ounces of crushing ad-libs. Other fine moments include "If You Want To" supplemented by fist-tight, airy synth bubbles provided by Cool And Dre and "Family Portrait" an open assessment of his life.

This mixtape is an embarrassingly mocking mannequin that works as an excellent imitator, but not as a true independent. For all the talk of self-righteousness, Life does a lot of trying to blow out his own bonfire, appearing flabbergasted when it explodes in his face, my chain took/I ain't with all that/Hundred thou[sand] for the n****/With the picture of that."

Dipset, in the end, is the star of Tru Life's raps. Tru York is a strong product, even after the entertainment value winnows down and the ghosts of Dipset cede away. Without Dipset, this mixtape is flat and far from funny, but let's save that for another mixtape or better yet the album.