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I frequently hear the claim that gangsta rap all sounds the same. And on the surface, that's true. Most gangsta rap deals with the same themes of violence and crime. But good gangsta rap goes much deeper than that, often revealing complex truths in numerous shades of gray.

Or shades of blue, in the case of Treali Duce. Duce follows in a line of blues-inflected gangsta rap that you find more common in the South than in San Diego. Palpable sadness runs through his album, A Man's Heart. Duce's strength is pain, struggle, and ultimately, empathy.

The title of the first song, "I Get Money," suggests a song of material excess, all braggadocio about wealth. Instead, Duce sets the tone for the album by speaking to the dilemma of the poor: to hustle, obtain wealth, and thereby be respected in society; or to live straight and narrow, remain poor, and be looked down upon? It's a catch-22 that he captures by speaking in first person and relating his own moral struggle with it. The hook's chant — "I get money, you get money, we get money, let's all get money" — becomes a lament of this eternal rat race we're stuck in. Duce sees money as "the root of all wickedry [sic]" but sees no way out of the paper chase. He paints himself as this complex, gripping character throughout the album, a sane man in an insane world.

  • Album: A Man's Heart (2010)
  • Artist: Treali Duce
  • Label: Grave Baby Entertainment
  • Songs: (1) Intro (2) I Get Money (3) We Ride (4) Who I Am (5) Skit (6) Screw tha Authorities (7) Wave Yo Flags (8) Act Like That (9) Wake Up and Get Yo Paper Up (10) Not Around (11) Skit (12) Rollercoaster (13) Livin by the Strap (14) Off tha Clock (15) Skit (16) Informants (17) Somthin' to Run Thru (18) All About It (19) Tear Drops (20) Point the Finger (21) Interlude (22) Good Lookin'
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