In the wake of Trap or Die Drama’s role is more concrete than ever before; he’s establishing most-promising MVP rappers, laying the groundwork for the major label debut with a single tape. And so aside from weird, pleasant and boring offshoots like Little Brother’s Gangsta Grillz, you’ve got a bunch of Trap or Die Jr. releases, same anthemic introductions, similar beats. Yo Gotti’s album won’t do Let’s Get It-numbers, but its gonna sell well, thanks to Drama’s heightened profile and the formulaic similarity to Jeezy’s grassroots build.
Not that this biting is all bad. Yo Gotti and Young Dro just dropped 2 mixtapes, and along with Buck’s post-prison Drama disc, they’re some of the better rap releases to drop this year. Gotti’s will grab yr attention immediately, his muscular flow and rounded syllables fighting every second through his syrupy drawl for yr attention, personality-dominated trap raps rending the serviceably generic southern beats to the background. Although Gotti reps Memphis, this all sounds as much Atlanta as it does Tennessee, with the same thin trebly-yet-bass-heavy abrasive gangsta thump.
Memphis in ’06 is nothing like millenial Memphis, with 3-6 Mafia slipping from a movement to a trio, Al Kapone dropping the worst tracks on E-40’s album, the new Ball & G single sounding more like Outkast than Puffy (If the 18-year-old-me heard me say that shit…) I’m sure Memphis is still one of the livest cities for rap, but the cream rises and nothing’s really risen in TN since the turn of the century – even Young Buck needed G-Unit to get put on. So when Yo Gotti says “King of Memphis” I don’t even know who the dude is competing with. All the same, he’s got the Jigga look down on the cover, and his posture looks like his voice sounds: heavy. The Shyne of Memphis tells 3-6 to fuck themselves and gets La Chat on “Drop It Off.”
“Full Time” is still one of the best tracks, from its high-profile drop in Hustle&Flow to TVT mailouts to every rock critic in the country – just thumping 808s and guitar grinding behind a patois inflected hook that echoes Gotti’s chorus. But the real reason “Full Time” works is Gotti’s voice, electric with style, bending over backwards to spit syllables, his voice thick and serious. It isn’t a particularly lyrical approach; he’s more Jeezy than he is T.I., dripping weighted charisma as distinct lines of real talk alternate with egotistical braggadocious. And “Gangsta Party,” as far as I’m concerned, is a classic straight up, spiritual descendent of Dre n Snoop classics even if it sounds objectively nothing like them.
Rapid-fire drawl spitting quick personal history over 80s electro, starting with 3-6, 8ball & MJG, and Project Pat breaking, getting on TVT, getting the call from Baby.
25 Years To Life
Fearful instructive concept track, the sad stark hopelessness and real implications of the aforementioned prison sentence: “25 years to life, 25 tears a night.”
Although I’ve been listening to the Gotti mixtape all week, Young Dro is growing on me and I think I’m gonna end up riding with him in the long term – a more generic gruff gangsta drawl, but as a result he’s more lyrically ambitious, revelling in dark g-cliche like its all he has to hold onto. More on that later, maybe.
Listen to Damage Control tonight for a Hawk tribute.