Nostalgia is often a double-edged sword. Between romanticizing the past and a disdain for the status quo, it’s easy to reminisce on days past. Unfortunately, reality and nostalgia don’t always see eye to eye. Thankfully, most fans of Hip-Hop can fall back on music from the 1990’s as a crutch when today’s offerings wear them down. Hearkening back to that Golden Era without sounding dated, long-time Ghostface affiliate Trife Diesel (a.k.a. Trife da God) presents his debut album Better Late Than Never. Replete with dusty soul sample fueled production and street influenced rhymes, this is closest listeners will get to ‘94 without re-visiting their CD collections.
During his time around Ghostface, Trife has definitely learned how to string an album together as the songs on Better Late Than Never seamlessly blend into each other,while the head nod inducing beats keep coming. His decision to not include any skits only strengthens the albums fluidity as he varies his subject matter just enough to keep things from getting monotonous. Trife delves into his Staten Island upbringing early and often as tracks like “Better Late Than Never” & “Stonger Man.” The former is a nice introduction to those who don’t know Trife as he gives a brief synopsis of his life over a sped-up soul sample. Both delve into his childhood beyond just his block persona, giving him more depth as an artist outside of yet another block-hugging, crack-slinging emcee.
And that’s not to say he’s above keeping it hood because songs like “We Get It In“ and Neenyo’s white-hot, electrifying “Respectfully,” featuring Ghostface proves his affinity for the streets as well. Trife links back up with Ghost on “Live Nigga Night Out,” as the two detail the process of getting ready for a night out on the town. Holding his own with Mr. Starks, Trife displays a knack for storytelling as well. It’s further displayed on “Blind Man” where he uses his first verse to tell the tale of a blind man in the hood and how this is one of the final destinations for once proud corner boys.
Trife Diesel is a more than serviceable emcee as his verses remain strong throughout the album. He effectively weaves metaphors and punch lines together, yet he doesn’t combine the theatrics for very many standout verses. The best verse on the album belongs to Royce Da 5’9 on “Powerful Minds” and Trife always plays second fiddle when a higher profile artist appears on a track with him. He also made a bad choice on “What Did I Do Wrong” as he chooses another dude to play the part of his unhappy girlfriend. It takes a second to realize what’s going on and at that point, the song is almost over. Miscues like that are few and far between though on this solid effort. By choosing to not include a smash hit that will appeal to today mainstream audience, Better Late Than Never will probably get overlooked. But those who take the time to listen, will be taken back to a time when singles were picked after the album was done and not forcefully created to appease a demographic.