J Trauma is a New York rapper who dropped a series of mixtapes last year. VIRTUAL CHRIST is his first of 2015, and probably my favorite yet, as Trauma sounds confident with his new mic and a set of hard-hitting beats. However, my biggest issue with Trauma is as apparent as ever on this project. Let’s get into it.
Track 1) “Gameboy Advance SP” [Low 8/10]
Right off the bat, Trauma manages to impress me. I’m only one track in, and I have already discovered a song that is superior to almost all of Trauma’s previous mixtape. I love the sound of his new mic, and two-voice affect. It brings out Trauma’s emotion and passion.
Let’s also take a minute to talk about the concept behind the song. Not only is Trauma using the Gameboy to contrast his past to his future, but it is also used as a metaphor for his current life. He concludes the song with a clever and memorable lyric:
Walking down the road, trying to find more than the pathways
The production features a gloomy guitar riff (likely sampled), heavy, side-chained kicks, and some lighter snares and hi-hats. It even boasts a video game sample, adding on to the concept of the song. Lyrically, Trauma continues to prove to me that he has a natural gift for storytelling,
Track 2) “Incognito” [Low 6/10]
Although it still has its very noticeable flaws, “Incognito” is possibly the closest Trauma has gotten in terms of making a good sex song. He certainly toned down the corny punchlines and sexual imagery, and focused more on praising his girl instead, a smart move.
The production felt a bit too watery for me, but still well-planned and somewhat enjoyable to listen to. However, the part of this song that has me back laughing is Trauma’s infamous deep voice, which never manages to make me question his artistic goals for his projects.
Flow-wise, Trauma does his thing, and doesn’t seem to be lacking. However, I do feel as if he began to get a bit off-topic as the song began to come to a close. In short, this song isn’t bad, but could’ve been a lot better with some minor tweaks.
Track 3) “Out Of It” feat. Odd Pike [Low 6/10]
For those who do not know, guest features were my biggest issue with Trauma’s previous mixtape, Isolated, so I was interested to see how this new guest feature played out. I was hoping for the best, but my worst suspicions came true: Odd Pike delivered a laughable verse.
If Trauma was a lone on this track, this track would easily at least be ranked a 7/10 if not an 8. I really enjoyed how he begins his verse with some vivid self-imagery, much like on the title track on his previous tape. His flow and delivery were also on point here.
However, Odd Pike almost completely ruined this track for me. He couldn’t even keep a single subject matter for the whole verse, and dropped cringe-worthy bar after bar. His microphone quality was awful, and his vocals were mixed with too much reverb.
Track 4) “Tap Water” [Middle 7/10]
I actually mixed and mastered the original demo of this song, though Trauma decided to use his own mix for this track (even though I prefer my mix). However, he still provides an enjoyable listen. The production uses the same sample as Mick Jenkin’s “Vibe”, but in a much more dark and grimy way. I also really enjoy the hard-hitting trap drum pattern.
Flow-wise, this may be one of my favorite tracks on the album. Here, Trauma’s flow is a wavy anomaly that makes the very rigid beat sound a bit more emotional. He calls out more stereotypes here and dabbles in topics about staying young, giving me a glimpse of his true character.
His two-voice delivery sounds great too here, though his vocals sound a bit quiet compared to beat. It’s still a satisfactory listen overall. His incorporation of the title into the hook was clever (and it appears to fit right in with the sample too).
Track 5) “Lightningbolt” [Middle 6/10]
This electrifying track is composed of two distinct sections, one clearly better than the other. In the first section, Trauma is ambitious with a strange, wavy vocal effect, but fails miserably and sounds automated and painful. His flow in that section is very off-beat too.
However, the second part of this track is the Trauma I like. Over this ethereal beat, he spits some clever bars, even referencing the Greek god Hades. His flow and delivery a bit underwhelming here also, but Trauma still manages to captivate me in the second half of this track.
Track 6) “Splinterlude” [Low 5/10]
Though this interlude isn’t necessarily bad, it just comes off as forgettable and slightly unnecessary. Trauma’s delivery is a lot weaker than usual here, and the underwhelming guitar-sampled beat simply doesn’t enthrall me into replaying the track.
Not even Trauma’s lyrics or flow are particularly impressive here. Their lack of substance are resistant of Trauma’s older projects, and Trauma sounds like he isn’t even passionate about rapping this song with an emotionless flow and delivery.
Track 7) “funney funney LOL” [Middle 8/10]
God damn…Trauma truly snaps off on this track. This has to be the most passionate and aggressive I have ever heard from him (which is especially refreshing after listening to the previous track). When the beat, initially dropped, I was blown away. Speaking of the production, it was pretty smooth with hard-hitting drums and a beautiful vocal sample.
Flow-wise, Trauma is aggressive too. His lyrics may not be the most substantial, but do fit with the subject matter very well and Trauma accurately portrays his more arrogant side. All in all, this is an excellent listen, and Trauma’s sounding as professional as ever.
Track 8) “My Dawn Is Dusk” [High 6/10]
“My Dawn Is Dusk” is a clever juxtaposition as far as they go, but Trauma failed to weave the title into the song, and more noticeably the production. Although I enjoyed the productions rapid pace and hard-hitting drums, the main synth is too exuberant for a song like this.
Trauma on the other hand, kills his verse. He doesn’t really step out of his comfort zone in terms of his lyricism or subject matter, but demonstrates his knack for songwriting and rhyming. His flow, as usual, is very versatile and smooth to listen to.
Where I can certainly commemorate Trauma is in his delivery, as he steps up his double voice to the next level. He contrasts a pitched up voice with a pitched down voice, surprisingly very satisfactory and seems to incorporate the title better than any other aspect of the song.
Track 9) “The End” feat. Loucid [Low 6/10]
Surprisingly (and thankfully), this is Trauma’s first “swage” track on this entire mixtape, and actually manages to come off as captivating by selecting a compelling beat and delivering an irresistibly catchy hook. I liked the beat’s tense guitar lead and crisp snares.
Perhaps Trauma delivered a couple of ridiculous brags, but his verse has fantastic entertainment value, and is a pleasurable listen. Flow-wise, he conforms to the fast-paced instrumental, and sounds perfectly confident and comfortable as he claims he is going to fuck your bitch.
Based off of the previous unknown feature, I wasn’t all that hyped for Loucid’s verse, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although he was decent at best, Loucid’s deep voice enthralls me, and he had a decent flow up in here. Lyrically, he was a bit inconsistent though.
Track 10) “Gungir” feat. LOADiee & XX/\/\E [Middle 5/10]
If we are being completely honest here, the result of this track was pretty damn predictable. I knew going into it that XX would renegade and LOADiee would bomb his verse. My predictions came true, even though Trauma sounds a bit weaker than normal here.
The production’s main synth seemed very week and loose, though the drums were smooth. Trauma comes off as a bit more monotonous than normal here, and his flow doesn’t seem as crisp nor thought out here. He still delivered a decent verse lyrically though.
The real star of the show here is clearly XX/\/\E. It is obvious through his delivery that he is calling out the fakes who make fun of him satirically, due to his hilarious delivery and extremely braggadocious lyrics. He also has the best flow on the track, and his singing was pretty smooth.
This may be the best LOADiee verse I have ever listened to (though it is still awful). His microphone quality is worse than my laptop microphone with a pile of shit on it. His lyrics are laughable, but one stands out as being particularly ironic:
2015 and I found my own flow
As he raps these exact lyrics, he begins to bite Trauma’s standard triplet flow very blatantly, just making me internally cringe. As to be expected his delivery and flow were awful too. When is Trauma going to learn his lesson…LOADiee is a terrible rapper.
Track 11) “No” feat. GHO$T CHRONIKK [Middle 4/10]
Except for Trauma’s flow, this song is very forgettable, and it is starting to get hard for me to fully pay attention as we reach the end of the mixtape. The beat is incredibly repetitive, and starts to get on my nerves after multiple listens.
Once again, we get a very loose and played-out subject matter here, and Trauma isn’t even the slightest bit coherent on this track. Despite having an excellent flow, his lyrics and delivery are decent at best, and doesn’t really stand out to me.
However, the real issue with this track is once again the guest feature. GHO$T has been featured on numerous Trauma and XX/\/\E tracks lately, and I have yet to find a verse that I liked from him. His fake gangsta persona was hilarious and puts Rick Ross to shame. I died of laughter at this:
Imma thug, imma g
Track 12) “Ligeia” feat. Pistol Phantom [Middle 6/10]
Here we go…now the mixtape seems to be picking itself back up. This is easily the most ambient and chill instrumental on this entire tape, as it features a very sparse drum pattern and a wavy main synth. Trauma delivers a decent hook, comparing himself to famous writers.
Where Trauma really impresses me here was in his rhyme schemes…this is quite possibly Trauma’s best song ever rhyme-scheme wise. He uses a fast-paced flow to fit in all of the rhymes, making it even more charismatic. Pair that up with his double-voice, and we have an enjoyable verse.
Pistol Phantom is actually pretty nice too. Perhaps his verse utilizes an excess of reverb, but he spit some relatable bars and knows how to construct a basic flow. He needs to improve on his delivery, but still is a hell of a lot better than some of these other guest features.
Track 13) “Crucified” [Low 8/10]
Trauma once again demonstrates that he understands the concept of ending his tape on a high note. This is easily my favorite beat on the album, with its hauntingly beautiful vocal sample and syrupy drums, building up a vivid atmosphere.
It is also pretty apparent to me that Trauma seems very passionate here in his delivery, removing the mask he has been putting on with the double voice. His raw emotion is enough for me to love it, and his flow is pretty nice too.
Lyrically, Trauma dabbles in a few topics (in a good way), discussing his life as a teenager and a rapper. However, the one lyric that stood out to me the most was the final lyric, a common pattern Trauma has with his music:
I’m not a virgin ‘cuz life came and raped me
Here are my favorite tracks on the mixtape.
3) “Gameboy Advance SP”
This creative concept song certain begins the mixtape nicely. Although it is extremely short, Trauma utilizes this time period to carefully craft his words into an emotional song about his future and past. The production is pretty smooth too.
For a start, “Crucified” contains my absolute favorite beat on the entire tape, produced by Greaf. Trauma also sounds very sincere and passionate here, and spits some of the most socially conscious and intriguing lyrics on the entire tape.
1) “funney funney LOL”
Trauma’s extreme aggression along with this banger of a beat is what makes it my favorite on the album. Trauma sounded like an entirely different person here…almost godly as he assumed the position of a critic of others. It is an excellent work overall.
- Although some were pretty good, the guest features still dragged down this tape quite a bit. Trauma still prefers to have friends over good guest features on here, even though some consistently drop bad verses (I’m looking at your LOADiee).
- Even though Trauma is certainly improving in this front, I still think this mixtape isn’t versatile. He does tend to re-use the same subject matter over and over again, which makes it a tedious listen.
- Trauma’s production is actually a lot better here than in previous projects in terms of professionalism, but some of them lacked a sonically pleasing melody.
That is all. Stay tuned for more true music reviews!