I’ll start by saying I’m not a fan of guys who name themselves after drug use. I’m not a prude, it’s just that they’re usually single-minded, uninteresting rappers who need to invoke weed to get people to love them.
But the next thing I’m going to say is this: Harlem’s Smoke DZA dropped a stealthy slow burner full of wit, wisdom and fine grooves. I love this album.
“The Legacy” is a brief intro track, but it’s a keeper, not a throw-away. It introduces you to an album that will be melding classic sounds and more modern references. Nicely done.
Then, we roll right into “The Mood.” And it’s an apt name. Pulling from Scarface’s classic “Guess Who’s Back” track, DZA trades bars with Joey Bada$$ to pull you deeper into this album. Yeah. It’s an album. A fucking album. Not a collection of singles. It’s got a theme, it develops, and each track is carefully arranged in order.
Next, D.R.A.M. joins DZA on a drug-selling trck, “The Come-Up.” It’s street poetry, nice done and well written. He goes on to sample Erykah Badu, riff off Big Boi, share the mic with Bodega Bamz, invoke Curtis Mayfield, and generally beat the hell out of this record. I know it’s got it’s faults, and I’m not seeing other critics loving it as much as I did–and I’ll go so far as to say that many of their comments are valid. It’s not a huge stretch farther than DZA’s last album. It’s a bit too long. The consistent hipsway groove could use a few more tempo changes. But the lyrics are tremendous, and there’s enough really great songs here to completely blow away all these negative comments.
Like I said, I loved this record and recommend it wholeheartedly.