WHO: Hip-hop fans might remember 21-year-old Fat Trel (né Martrel Reeves) from a brief association with Wale and his boutique label, the Board Administration. But Trel cut ties with the fellow D.C. native (and eventual Maybach Music stable hand) when he was unceremoniously dropped from the Board just days before the release of his stellar April Foolz mixtape in the spring of 2011. The separation has only served to fuel Trel's undeniable star power — he's since become a stronger entity independently, much in the way Curren$y has since leaving Lil Wayne's Young Money clan.
SOUNDS LIKE: Though Trel shares Waka Flocka Flame's tattoo-draped, dread-head visual aesthetic, his meticulous, teeth-gnashing delivery has more in common with Black Thought of the Roots. He is particularly limber for a native of northeast D.C., a region whose population's mush-mouthed inflection is closer to M-Town than Georgetown. The D.C./Maryland/Virginia region itself has never had a bona fide rap star outside of Wale, someone many locals don't claim. "I'm always gon' still be considered a DMV artist, and it's a lot of DMV artists I fuck with here," Trel says, of taking a special pride in uniting the scene. "But lately it's been a lot of fluke shit going on, so I eased up on a lot of these niggaz.…It is what it is. I love the DMV, the DMV love me."
E STREET SHUFFLE: Trel's latest (and finest) mixtape, Nightmare on E Street, is a polished, 22-song epic that finally dropped this past April, replete with production from industry heavyweights such as Lex Luger, Kane Beatz, and Lil Lody. And as Trel's buzz has grown, he's been presented with a wide variety of opportunities: "We going with the flow right now, and I guess whatever God feel like he want me to do, that's what's gon' happen," he says. "I can't really determine what that will be, whether it be independent or major — all we care about is the music. Everything else is secondary."
CAT FANCY: "A week," Trel says, "is shows, fucking, drinking, smoking, getting to the money, and what's most important: interacting with the fans." But his favorite part of life as a rapper on the rise? "Pussy!" he snaps back. "Money wasn't never really the main focus — it's the love that makes niggas excited about being an artist." To that end, Trel has no reservations about what affords him such luxury, rapping: "Yeah, I'm ugly. So what? But I'm tatted as fuck / Plus, I got green eyes, so either way I'ma fuck."