Review: TM Trick – Habbit In A Rat

Habbit In A Rat EP cover art

In my experience, its rare for someone to have the hype TM Trick possesses, within the North East, by his peers not within his own group of mates. For months, I’ve been told by various local MC’s that TM Trick is the ‘one to watch,’ most notably by New North East’s 90Bro. Having heard very little from the Sunderland bar-smith, save for a few live cyphers and a couple freestyle videos online, I was aware of his rapping ability, but wasn’t sure what I’d find in terms of lyrical content and production style as I turned on the EP.

Habbit In A Rat‘ is a 5 track extended play with production exclusively from Cluejay – the pair make up two thirds of Budrat Records, which the EP is released from, alongside Gooch The Recluse. As had been showcased in previous live sets, TM Trick has a technical talent with rapping which supersedes many of his peers in Sunderland. Each and every word delivered with a clear and distinctive cadence. Over boom-bap, sample packed, DJ scratch-filled beats, Trick tackles a love-hate relationship with his city, an inner-conflict which is synonymous with Hip Hop; simultaneously wanting to rep Sunderland whilst acknowledging that it’s a shit-hole – culturally, geographically and politically marginalised.

The EP’s Intro, ‘Budrat Class” opening bar reads “You’ll never know Trick and that’s an actual fact.” An interesting way to start the EP, considering it almost perfectly summarises the lyrical content. There are a lot of vague, non-personable, generic punchlines that could have been throwaways from early Eminem or Lunar C’s rhyme book albeit with a Mackem dialect. With an abundance of drug references, shock-rap misogyny and depictions of violence, TM Trick falls into a trap almost every up-and-coming rapper does in their early work, rehashing the same old themes and topics that have been rinsed throughout Hip Hop’s forty year history.

There are glimmers of potential in the tracks, particularly in ‘Looped‘, Trick raps about being “a scruffy kid, sick of earning a shit wage.” There’s just not enough of his own personality on hand. Whilst it is often a complains of local MC’s that not many from the North East has been able to attract a national spotlight, it is also an advantage they have, in order to set themselves apart and tell a story, not many have heard before. Given the fact that the North East is seemingly ignored by the politicians in power, it’d be great to see an MC with the technical ability of TM Trick to tackle these issues head on. Instead of generic weed bars, it’d be great to see TM Trick delve into the deeper issue at hand, as to why weed takes up so much of his life, references to it make up most of the EP.

It’s important to note that weed-anthems, and shock-rap lyrics can be very good – and each track individually on the EP sounds excellent. The issue is when it looks as though that’s all TM Trick is capable of. One or two terrific tracks of the aforementioned nature will impress the majority of the North East scene but on a five-track EP, a touch of versatility could have really separated TM Trick from the pack.  

‘Habbit In A Rat’ is a showcase of a rapper with a phenomenal potential, already well-polished in technical ability, but needs to emit a greater personality in his word-play. Play the EP in the background without paying too much attention to the words, and TM Trick sounds like an experienced MC well beyond his age. Once the words he’s actually rapping are more personable, and varied, the Sunderland spitter could soon find himself mentioned amongst the best the North East has to offer.    

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