If Crooked I isn’t a household name by now, then he surely will be after him and the rest of Slaughterhouse release their Shady Records debut. On In None We Trust: The Prelude EP, Crooked I continues to lay the foundation for his solo career and his COB brand. At the end of the day, it’s just another teaser from one of the West Coast’s illest artists. 

“Some of these old West rappers they fear him/ Take your cosign and shove it up your rear end.” When you have a Shady Record deal in tow and are routinely considered one of the dopest rappers out, cosigns are no longer needed, and Crooked I understands this. In None We Trust is just another step as the lyricist attempts to establish himself as The One on the West Coast. With stand out tracks like the contagious “Ssuutt X2” and the catchy “Pocket Full of Money” Crooked I shows that he has the ability to make commercially successful music. “Money In my Pocket” features production that sounds like AraabMUZIK and a simple hook that catapulted artists like 50 Cent into the mainstream. Yet Crooked’s multi-syllable delivery and ridiculous word play annihilates any comparison past that. While “No Competition” was essentially released as the street single of the project, “Money in My Pocket” is the type of record that could make Crooked a household name. The EP’s aforementioned lead single (“No Competition”) arrived just in time and will be heard on basketball warm up mixes around the country. Never short on confidence, Crooked drops line like “I got 99 problems but one ain’t competition” and delivers an inspired anthem over production that recalls Jeezy’s Thug Motivation.

Unfortunately, the album seldom varies from this tone. Tracks like the disappointing “Goin’ Bad” suffer from an annoying hook and unfortunate production, while posse cuts like “Roll Call” and “Drum Murder” seem too crowded for any one of the dope emcees to shine. Even more unfortunate is that the EP fails to deliver anything with depth such as the haunting “Villain” featured on Million Dollar Story. With the clout Crooked’s received from “Villain” along with his verses on “Move On” and “Raindrops,” the failure to include a track of that depth ultimately feels like a missed opportunity to showcase arguably his greatest skill set.

In None We Trust: The Prelude EP gives us pieces of what to expect on the LP. When the album thrives, the listener can’t help but feel that Crooked I will get embraced by a wider audience. Yet the EP ultimately highlights only a small side of what and who Crooked I is as an artist. The album unquestionably shows growth from Mr. Pigface Weapon Waist but still doesn’t prove that Crooked I has mastered making an album the same way he has mastered murdering a microphone.