Ain’t That the Truth continues Drakeo’s winning streak, his loosest, most aesthetically confident work yet.
The concept of “The Truth” links Drakeo the Ruler’s recent projects together via a thread running the short but densely packed distance from December 2020, when he released We Know the Truth, to July 2021’s Ain’t That the Truth (with this past February’s The Truth Hurts in between). This loose Truth trilogy has emerged in the wake of Drakeo’s release from the infamous Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles County, where he was imprisoned off and on for three years while awaiting trial (and where he recorded the ingenious Thank You for Using GTL). Truth and lived experience are two of the more substantial currencies in the art world, and in rap culture perhaps even more so, particularly in the context of work detailing gang violence and dealing. Inevitably, in the post-Drake, ghostwriter-normalized industry, classically-minded rappers of the Griselda Records type would emerge to capitalize on the inherent untruthfulness of the narratives being spun by the big pop-rap stars. Indeed, Drakeo could be the west coast Westside Gunn if he wanted to be, but the Ruler’s appeal is that his music isn’t made in conscious opposition to the Calabasas set (he’s even worked with Drake, though to not so great effect), but instead in service of articulating his own philosophy.
Building on the momentum established a year ago with GTL, Drakeo has released at least 5 full-length projects in the interim, with this latest failing to display any signs of wear or loss of inspiration. In fact, Drakeo only seems to be more comfortable with his status, his lyrics funnier and looser than ever, still balanced with a pragmatic nihilism and grumbly, amelodic flow. Opening track “Just Dance” is indeed an allusion to the smash hit single, a disarming reference that Drakeo slyly deploys to flip a bleak scene into a mean joke (“Just dance when these choppers hit the floor like Lady Gaga”). This track also establishes the tone and rhythms of the rest of the mixtape, which knowingly slides between unabashed goofiness and plainspoken sociopathy — a disorienting, yet entertaining experience that Drakeo has perfected at this point. In a sense, this isn’t much of a departure for the L.A. rapper, especially if one has been following his recent output closely (the production especially, more serviceable west coast-tinged trap, no real switch-ups), but it’s undeniable that Drakeo has more of a handle on his aesthetic than ever, testing the limits of how far he can take his singular flow off-beat, before pivoting back into catchy pop hooks. His ever appealing lexicon continues to expand too, back-to-back tracks “Mitchy Slickster” and “Pump Faker” introducing new murky terminology to the mainstream, appealingly enunciated by himself and younger brother Ralfy the Plug (gifted 5 features on this tape). Though of course, as much as Ain’t That the Truth exemplifies Drakeo’s music at its best, his thornier tendencies are amplified too, manifesting most damningly in a Tory Lanez feature (“Chops Out”). This inevitably reminds that, for the most part, there’s less distance between the persona Drakeo presents on these projects and the actual person, his commitment to this truth never oversold.
Published as part of Album Roundup — July 2021 | Part 2.