Fans of either Diamond District or Trek Life would recall the European tour they did together, so for those in the know, a collaborative effort between Trek Life and Diamond District’s Oddisee should be no surprise. The DMV producer has provided the California lyricist with twelve tracks of skillful production to give a new flavor to Trek’s west coast bars on Everything Changed Nothing.
An important aspect of any cohesive project is balance, and that may be the biggest drawback of the bi-coastal LP. Oddisee’s talent is undeniable, and he dishes out melodically bass and synth heavy, Funk-inspired beats with dashes of J. Dilla and Kanye West influences from start to finish. It brings together the D.C. area’s penchant for funk-derived Go-Go and the west coast’s love of taking the same influences and relaying them in a more chill, relaxed manner. The connection is subtle yet present, and is executed with skill. However, for most of the album it feels as if Trek’s rhymes just can’t stand up to Oddisee’s instrumentals.
It’s not that Trek Life is a bad rapper, it’s more that he does nothing on Everything Changed Nothing to make him stand out. In fact, from the break it feels as if Oddisee’s beats are overpowering him, as evidenced on the opening feel-good track, “Ready to Live” featuring fellow DMV resident Olivier Daysoul. And although on “Might Sound Crazy” Trek exercises some of his rapper A-Life best rhymes on the LP, he still doesn’t manage to live up to his own ego-maniacal dreams when he informs his audience that “Hip Hop isn’t divided in classes/ either you get your ass kicked, or you kick asses / But this is my personal philosophy / On my journey toward a lyrical monopoly.” And Trek A-Life is correct in stating, as the hook eases in and continues the sentence, “and I know this might seem crazy to you.”
Where some Hip Hop albums are saved from mediocrity with standout features, Everything Changed Nothing also seems to fail. Both Olivier Daysoul and DJ Buddy make frequent guest appearances, however neither add anything too beneficial to the project. Daysoul’s voice is decent, but not amazing, and DJ Buddy’s cuts and scratch hooks leave a lot to be desired.
High points come in the form of the title track and “Wow,” the latter being a story of a drunken encounter at a club with a lovely lady over one of Oddisee’s funkier offerings on the LP. A large chunk of the album is also dedicated to odes to California, as the listener will see in “Still Never Rains” (the posse cut of the lineup), “Due West,” and “So L.A.”
While Californians will embrace Trek Life’s constant references to the golden state, out-of-towners most likely won’t relate, and his rhyming probably won’t keep them coming back for more. For someone with a resume like his, which included a single being placed by ESPN on the NBA Finals highlights and work with Evidence, DJ Rhettmatic, and DJ Khalil, it just seemed like the LP should lyrically be more substantial. Thankfully, Oddisee provides a high quality sound that keeps this album easy on the ears, regardless of its shortcomings.