At this point, ShittyBoyz are a well-oiled sports car with LEDs on the chassis and Supreme stickers embossed on the spoiler. Since they first gained traction through their single “No Hook 3” in 2018, emcees BabyTron, StanWill, and TrDee have honed their sly take on Michigan street rap into a reliable formula. Over a high-octane blend of dance, hyphy, and hardcore rap that couldn’t come from anywhere but the Motor City, they shoot off rounds of impish insults and flexes. (If their songs were any more Detroit, every album would come with a bottle of Everfresh.) It’s an approach that’s catapulted BabyTron into mainstream rap conversations, but StanWill and TrDee haven’t slowed down either, thanks to a prolific run of solo albums and wacky videos. Independently, they are already among Detroit’s most consistent rappers, but on their latest album, Trifecta 3: the Finale, they continue stunting as a unit, digging further into their world of deadpan zaniness.
ShittyBoyz records largely stick to an established blueprint, mostly because each member of the trio has more freedom to experiment on their solo projects. BabyTron’s last album, 6, featured some of his most thoughtful and slowest-paced songs yet. Though StanWill and TrDee don’t deviate much from their go-to themes, the beats they gravitate toward feature strange, beguiling samples, even by their standards (On this year’s Early Mornings, Late Nights, TrDee’s baritone enchantingly clashes against the bright twinkling sample). In that sense, every ShittyBoyz album is like an Avengers team-up: They’re not here to complicate or challenge the lore, but they’re also not going to phone it in. Instead, they hit every trick and alley-oop with just enough nonchalance to elicit oohs and aahs from the crowd.
And by now, that three-man weave is so effortless, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. On each of Trifecta 3’s 20 songs, they pull quotable after quotable out of the ether. Whether it’s hyperspecific sport references (“Flyin’ in a ’Hawk, I feel just like Dejounte Murray” from “Perfect 3”) or borderline dad jokes (“You not plugged in like a loose charger” from “Ball Players”), the bars range from quotidian profundities to genuine gut busters. BabyTron remains the star, a product of his unmatched charisma and cutting barbs (the way he sneers “You’re a pedophile” after TrDee’s R. Kelly joke on “Sh!tty Pack” almost made me fall out of my chair.) But all three of them sound best when they play off of each other in coordinated lyrical attacks. On the early album highlight “Tronald & Stanley,” Tron and Stan trade off after every bar, their references to DD Osama and scam-proof credit cards landing with the cocksure energy of a high school lunchroom cipher. “Game 7” pushes this dynamic to the extreme, with all three rappers sharing space in the same verse. They’re like different strands on a DNA triple helix, complementing each other’s themes and rhyme schemes in a brotherly bond.
Trifecta 3’s stable of producers, which includes the usual suspects, like EnrgyBeats, byekyle, Danny G, and RJ Lamont, keeps things just as lively and familiar. Some of the beats, like “Boomshakalacka” and “Triumphs & Trophies,” are powered by the fanfare of horns, warbling 808s, and mid-song beat changes, which the trio raps over seamlessly. Others default to the retrofitted freestyle dance music (“Fun & Games”) and the future-goth aesthetic (“50 Boyz,” “Forever Litt”) present in many Michigan street rap songs, with slinky pianos and thudding percussion as if they were outsourced from the video game Castlevania. There are no misfires on the beat front, but the lack of exploration is more apparent here than it is in the raps. They don’t possess the ridiculous fun of past standouts, like the theme song medley on “Video Games” from Trifecta 2, or the tongue-in-cheek flip of Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand” that powers “Payday” on the first Trifecta. This record is no less energetic, but it is more straitlaced in comparison to its wilder siblings.
That’s the glaring issue with the otherwise solid Trifecta 3: The bars and the beats never operate on the same manic level. It’s all fluid, funny, and engaging, but there’s no song that grabs your skull and shakes it for loose change, no standout bar or memorable beat switch that will light social media on fire. ShittyBoyz do meet their standard for street rap mayhem, and you can’t knock these songs for jogging in place, especially when their whole thing is about appearing relaxed and rich enough to buy an NBA franchise with scam money. But if this is the clear end of a chapter in their discography, it’s hard not to wonder where else their madcap antics can go from here.