.Trauma Fresh Adds New Album to Against All Odds Series

Trauma Fresh talks new album, working with Traxamillion

When Trauma Fresh decided to start rapping for real he was at the lowest point of his life.

“I had nothing,” he says, “and when you have nothing, that’s when you decide what really matters.”

He was 19 at the time and going to college out of state when, in short order, he lost his apartment and got kicked out of school. Then it was back to the streets, where, as a kid, he’d spent many nights. The trauma of it all came right back. Before releasing his first album in 2017, he settled on a name for himself, “the two words that described me the most,” he says: Trauma Fresh.

Since returning to San Jose in 2018, Fresh has quickly grown his name around town with a string of solid albums and singles. Last Sunday, the San Jose rapper released Against All Odds 3, his third album of the last three years and third in his Against All Odds series. The album was released on his birthday, a tradition he’s kept since his first as Trauma Fresh, the very first Against All Odds.

“For me, ‘Against All Odds’ is like my credo,” Fresh says. “It’s for anybody who has a dream, anybody living in a struggle and trying to get over that.”

Struggle is at the heart of Against All Odds 3, beginning as it does with a collect call from the Santa Clara County Main Jail. The call leads to dramatic opener “Creed,” whose jolting choir howls like a bloodthirsty crowd as Fresh pronounces himself “a fighter like Creed, out the mud like a seed.” On late album highlight “Convict,” Fresh describes the self-fulfilling prophecy of incarceration in America: “You gone lose it when the crackers check your background / ain’t nobody hiring, how am I supposed to stack now? You hit the streets, it’s rob, scam or trap now.” 

Recorded at The SkyBoxx in downtown San Jose, Against All Odds 3 hits hard and never really lets up—appropriate for an album whose second track declares “I’m just protecting my energy.” 

“I’m trying to make real versatile albums,” Fresh says, “cover to cover stuff that you could play at any time in life. I just want something that people can have stick with them throughout the day.”

In an interview with South Bay hip hop series Bottom of the Bay, Fresh cites titans of rap like Lil Wayne, Ghostface Killah and 50 Cent as influences (as well as the less-often-shouted-out Inglewood rapper Mack 10). Just as important as all of them, however, is someone from right here in San Jose: the late producer Traxamillion.

https://youtu.be/2IdBqIIHzJo

“I never got to tell him this, and it’s kind of one of my biggest regrets, but he was always a hero of mine,” Fresh says. “He made my favorite song, [2009 The Jacka single] ‘Glamorous Lifestyle.’”

After years of trying, Fresh collaborated with his hero in 2021 for the single “What About You?” from Crime Spree. Back in 2018, he’d auditioned for Trax’s Tech Boom album of San Jose rappers, but it was his EP Against All Odds 2 that caught the producer’s ear. In the video for “What About You?” the two appear alongside each other, kicking it on the basketball court at San Jose’s Backesto Park in between shots in the TankShit box truck.

Never one to stay still, Trauma Fresh is already at work on the next album, which he says he’ll release on his next birthday. If all goes as planned, there might even be another Traxamillion beat on it, alongside those from his normal stable of producers. Now that he’s on the way up, Fresh says he’s just trying to do the same thing his hero did: bring more music to San Jose and bring more San Jose music into the wider conversation.

“I want to give back to the community the way Trax did. I want to make a way for that next kid, show him you can do anything you want to do,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you were a dumb kid. We were all 19 once and made mistakes. You can still rise above it and become somebody great.”

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