Stingy with the Good Shit: Introducing Oakland’s Trifln

Will Hagle takes a quick look at the rising Oakland rapper.
By    October 23, 2018

Will Hagle is damn near getting shin splits, the way he kicks shit.

Trifln’ embodies all the classic characteristics of his hometown’s legendary lineage: erratic flow patterns, disregard for conventional rhyme schemes, clever slang, up-tempo beats, and a general outpouring of love for Ice City. Whatever it takes to get you to notice it, it’s impossible to listen to Trifln’ and not recognize that he hails from North Oakland. Although that city has expanded beyond its hyphy roots, it’s maintained a distinctly original regional style that’s almost impossible to dislike.  Trifln’ is yet another individual who presents an idealized version of everything great and strange about the Bay, like the musical version of apparent Instagram friend Marshawn Lynch.

“Shin Dig” has spread Trifln’s name throughout the Bay and beyond. The title of the single is straightforward: it should be played at all of your shin digs. Everything else about the song is not. The beat is spastic, Trifln’s flow is unpredictable, and the accompanying visual is just as hectic. It’s the type of single from a new artist that can easily lead any first time listener down a bountiful YouTube rabbit hole, where the remaining videos reach nearly the same level of greatness.

Both on record and in regular speech, Trifln’’s vocals are unorthodox. His voice isn’t high-pitched necessarily, but it does sound as if the lows and mids of a natural EQ have been turned down slightly, and a strange effect has been added to make it slightly raspy. The off-kilter way in which he transposes these vocals over frenzied beats makes little logical sense and must be a challenge to the most left-brained engineers, but it somehow works. “Wrestle Mania” is one of the best examples of the quick chaos he’s able to sow, and it packs a ton of crazed energy into its 2 minute run time.

Trifln’s rap career has been as prolific as it has been short. His self-titled debut EP came out in 2017. Earlier this year, he put out a 9-song album called Just A Little Trifln’which is available on his website for $5, and has incredible packaging and artwork. A few months later Trifln’ released a 5-track EP entitled ICE: I’ve Ceen Everything. The latter contains an ode to the Iceman George Gervin, another great song with another good video.

“Shin Dig” is a starting point, both for unfamiliar listeners and Trifln’ himself. It’s proof that he’s capable of creating a catchy single, a song indebted to the Bay but a declaration of his uniqueness within the scene. This whole article has been an exercise in avoiding easy puns, so I’ll just end by saying there’s nothing unimportant or trivial about that.

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