Expectations are high for Fat Trel in 2012. The Northeast D.C. rapper has spent the past two years on a hype-building campaign that’s set to spike when his “Nightmare on E Street” mixtape drops in the coming months. During a headlining set at U Street Music Hall Sunday night — dubbed “Fat Trel’s Nightmare Before Xmas” — his future seemed as bright as ever. But the 21-year-old still hit a few roadblocks translating his online momentum to the stage. Let’s break the evening down into pros and cons:
Pro: He was backed by a six-piece live band, (a little bit go-go, a little bit nu-metal), and sounded completely comfortable in the music. “Trappin Like a Fool” had the cool swing of a vintage U.G.K. track and the rapper had the delivery to match. And while so much of Trel’s appeal lies in his street-hardened charisma, the fundamental musicality of his rhymes is what will help him win hearts, minds and ears outside of the Beltway next year.
Con: Excessive band noodling between songs killed the set’s momentum, giving the rapper open road to wander off in his monologues. Some were heartfelt, others were funny, but they all could have been streamlined.
Pro: It’s hard to forget what this man looks like. He wore his hair in a fountain of dreadlocks, he was shirtless after about three minutes onstage and he referred to his own “green and gold” eyes as “Jesus eyes.”
Con: His jokes (we hope) about the cleanliness of his boxer briefs were ... off-putting.
Pro: The Twitterverse says his rider included three packs of Newports, two bottles of Ciroc and six pizzas from Dominos.
Con: No con. That’s the realest rider ever.
Con: The set list felt disorganized. But once Trel learns how to present these tunes with focus and urgency, watch out.