When you decide to call yourself DJ Drama, you shouldn’t be surprised when your life gets a little crazy. (Somewhere C Murder is nodding his head). Drama, real name Tyree Simmons, is not only T.I.’s resident turntablist, he was the undisputed Southern King of the Mixtape, until the Feds decided that slinging mixtapes was roughly equivalent to slinging crack. What’s more, Drama’s gone through more industry beef in the past year than a Burger King, going head to head with seemingly the entire Cash Money crew. Yes sir, I bet there was many a night …
DJBooth Album Review
With the mixtape industry suddenly under more scrutiny than Cassie’s nipples, it’s no surprise that Drama has turned to the very thing he was once accused of killing, the album. His debut Gangsta Grillz: The Album was an undisputed success, an album I called unstoppable. Unfortunately, unlike his presidential namesake, so far 2009 doesn’t appear to be a banner year for Barack O’Drama. While the follow-up Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Vol 2) hits some towering home runs, it also has its fair share of strikeouts. With Drama’s immense influence, resources and talent expectations were high for Vol. 2. Maybe too high.
First the good news. Like Vol. 1’s extraordinary The Art of Storytellin’, Vol. 2 has a few tracks that are forces of hip-hop nature, starting with the epic We Must Be Heard. Must Be Heard is the definition of a banger; when that beat drops you’re legally obligated to turn the volume up. Plus Ludacris drops one of his best verses since I’m So Hood, newcomer Willie the Kid impresses and Busta returns to 2002 form, at least for a minute. Also strong is the pounding Come Up Boys, a track that hooks you with its production but keeps you on its verses. Honestly, I know very little about LA the Darkman, but in the span of a verse he completely won me over. In fact, Gangta Grillz introduction of an a mostly unknown rapper is one of its strong points. Almost like, pardon my language, a mixtape,
If only the entirety of Grillz was so Gangsta. Sadly some tracks on Vol.2 are not only mediocre, they’re flat-out bad. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to you Day Dreaming. If Dreaming only consisted of average verses from T.I. and Snoop it wouldn’t be so bad, but on the real, that hook from Akon makes me want to stick my head in an oven. First of all, what grown man drinks Shirley Temples? Second, Akon can’t believe the girl of his dreams is a go-go dancer? Really? That sounds like a perfectly predictable profession for the girl of his dreams to have. Now a high school physics teacher, that would be surprising. Grillz other lead single Ridiculous is equally irritating. I’ll shock myself and admit that Gucci Mane’s verse is respectable, but Gucci shows up on the album three times, more than any other rapper. Now I’m not saying Vol. 2’s line-up is weaker than Vol. 1’s, I’m just saying Gucci Mane is its most prominent rapper. You make your own conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against more party-oriented tracks. The first time I heard Love For Money I immediately dismissed it as another, well, “I love money” song, but I’ll be damned if the motherf**ker didn’t get lodged in my brain. After a couple listens Love For Money became one of my favorite tracks on the album. Equally enticing is Stripper Love, an ode to strippers that The-Dream transforms into a smash (that man can do no wrong right now). But even all that pole dancing can’t compensate for a disappointing Nas verse on Yacht Club - does Nas really brag he’s above us working folks who are feeling the recession? Or the absurd Sweat - can someone explain to me what’s sexy about a woman who gets so wet she sprays your sheets like a sprinkler. That’s not sexy, that’s time to do laundry. Ultimately that makes Gangsta Grillz Vol. 2 the L.A. Lakers of hip-hop albums; one minute they look like champions, the next they’re mediocre at best. Thanks to Vol. 1 we know DJ Drama can do much better, and hopefully the next time around he’ll put the drama aside and just concentrate on the music. Maybe he should change his name. Hey, you could do a lot worse than DJ Massage and a Blowjob.
Listen to More: DJ Drama Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Takin Pictures" (2007)
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