CEO Trayle has a rare sense of vision. The prolific Atlanta-based rapper and CEO/founder of 1080 Trademark Records sees the music industry the way a great point guard does a basketball court. He understands cause-and-effect, knowing how dropping one frosty, minimalist single will shape the perception around his next project. But occasionally he exceeds even his own expectations. His breakout single, “OK Cool,” a deadpan rebuke to an ex, earned more than 60 million streams, even though Trayle didn’t foresee it as a blockbuster when he made it. The momentum from that track, and its Gunna-assisted remix, paved the way for The Collection, a thrilling, visceral release that showcases the 28-year-old MC’s multi-genre fluency.
The Collection shows why Trayle has been so confident in his approach for a decade now while proving he’s still adding depth. From the Memphis-inspired menace of “Mr. Door Kicker” to the breezy swagger of “Dior Store,” Trayle is operating at the highest creative level of his career. Before signing to 10K Projects, he developed a passionate following thanks to his gravelly delivery, equal parts hushed and horrifying. Hearing Trayle rap is reminiscent of watching Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees follow a target—even when they’re moving slowly, you’re still scared.
Born in New York, Trayle spent much of his adolescence in Alabama, where his passion for music and his self-starter attitude as a teenager impressed a collective of rappers and producers who lived nearby. He learned the basics of writing and recording from them, but his passion and aptitude meant he quickly surpassed his mentors.
“They would come get me early in the morning and wake my mom up and go, ‘Yo, can Trayle come outside? He’s gotta show us how to do this and that.’” he recalls. “And I was like 13, so my mom was like, ‘Why are these grown men knocking on my door for you?’”
After relocating to Atlanta, Trayle released his first project with mixtape circuit staple Trapaholics in 2012. At the time, he says, Atlanta was still in its “fast rap” phase, and his brand of methodical, menacing hip-hop took some time to find an audience. He credits the explosion of drill—Chicago was one of the first cities where Trayle built a major fan base—with helping people grasp his unique delivery. “I’ve always been rapping how I’ve been rapping,” he says. “I was just ahead of my time.”
It’s fitting, given Trayle’s intimidating baritone, that he has found success through his longstanding Happy Halloween mixtape series, which is still going after more than five years. The music has grown increasingly cinematic over time, and with a fifth installment on the horizon, Trayle has a widescreen view of the franchise’s future. “If I can get Happy Halloween to Quentin Tarantino, we could do some crazy shit,” Trayle says.
In 2021, Happy Halloween C4 represented a high-water mark for Trayle, featuring captivating melodic moments like “Novocane” and harder-edged bars on “Loose Lips.” But his output has been staggering. Since 2019, he’s released eight mixtapes, largely eschewing features and carrying them with his own relentless, muscular rapping.
The Collection is set to build on that prolific run. Its diverse and vibrant tracks introduce new sides to Trayle’s sound, while also serving as a reminder of the continued power of the gloomy delivery that won him a dedicated listenership in the first place. In the span of a few years, CEO Trayle has made fans of Drake, Metro Boomin, and Young Thug, cementing his already growing legacy. Now, The Collection is proof that he’s outlasted a decade of rap trends, showing off a still-expanding skillset and the staying power of a true star.