Credit: Berick Visuals
by M.G. Mailloux Music What Would Meek Do?

Drakeo the Ruler | The Truth Hurts

March 15, 2021

The Truth Hurts is a tough albums for listeners to contend with, its hateful rhetoric feeling of a different hip hop era even as much as mightily impresses.

Drakeo the Ruler has already packed a lot of music into a still burgeoning career, which is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that the L.A. rapper has been hounded and harassed by law enforcement since his earliest days of visibility. Drakeo dropped his first mixtape in 2015, and in the time since he’s already served two stints in prison. But he seemingly hasn’t let that let incarceration impede his output at all, still managing to release a total of nine projects over the course of six years — a count which, notably, includes last year’s Thank You for Using GTL, for which Drakeo recorded his verses from prison, over the phone. Not even the threat of multiple felony convictions could do much to slow Drakeo’s momentum — so it comes as no real surprise that he’s on to his third album since being freed last November (though 2020’s Because Y’all Asked was devoted to rerecordings of the GTL tracks). He’s making up for lost time, and then some.

The Truth Hurts is Drakeo’s most hyped release yet; it’s propelled by his dramatic, starmaking 2020, as well as a much-advertised Drake feature (his biggest cosign to date). Said Drake feature ends up being a wash, tellingly tacked-on at the close along with a radio edit (just in case). But The Truth Hurts is, otherwise, a substantial effort that confirms Drakeo as one of contemporary rap’s most ferocious presences and deftest stylists. Utilizing a hushed, monotone flow and a static cadence that clash dramatically with the spare melodies he often chooses to rap over, Drakeo’s new project is jarring and serrated, an impression compounded by the rapper’s habit of bailing on rhyme schemes, and as well by lyrical content that swings between bleak descriptions of violence and phonetically pleasing assemblages of slang and cultural allusion (“Pull up in the Double R, I’m Dawn Toliver/It’s a dirty lemonade in a Prada bag”). 

The Truth Hurts vacillates in tone; it can be celebratory and even silly, but never without hinting at something more ominous, even nihilistic, underneath. Drakeo’s formidable persona comes with a meanness that, while not unfamiliar or new to the genre, feels out of step with the current pop music landscape — his threats are a bit more vivid and nasty than what we hear these days, and his put-downs are harsher too. Inevitably there are moments when this all becomes entwined with barely concealed misogyny and homophobia; Drakeo’s anger projects out in unpleasant directions that will ostracize him from some. It’s frustrating, to be sure, that this energy exists within the project, since so many other moments resonate with both great ingenuity and spirit. Of course, the dichotomy is also the point; how you contend with it is another matter. 

Published as part of Album Roundup — February 2021 | Part 2.