Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)
Not to focus too much on DJ Mustard, but no one, not even Mike Will Made It, has the rap and R&B world so wound up a single producer’s sound. The reason for Mustard’s dominance is that it isn’t based around one style. The post-“Rack City” sound that he was self-repeating has shifted into something less “Ratchet,” and morphed into a surprising variety of styles. Not that DJ Mustard hasn’t sold rappers 300 different slight variations of “Rack City,” but his Ketchup tape and YG’s Just Re’d Up 2 showed just how far he had come in a year. His styles have splintered into: G-Funk-meets-Ratchet (“Im 4rm Bompton”), 90s sampling R&B tracks (“I Wanna B Down”), Atlanta backyard grillin’ anthems (“Up and Down” and “Headband”) and he’s even found a less rigidly defined niche with his Ty$ single “Paranoid.”
That particular strain of Mustard is what I wanted to focus on here. “Paranoid” is my favorite song of 2013, 2014 and I’ll just give it a three-peat and include 2015. Sing it at home, blast it on the radio and mention it whenever #music appears in a conversation. Ty$’s story of paranoid love is far too relatable, not as art imitating a listener’s life, but more for its overly detailed and thought-out concerns in mattes of love. #sorrynotsorry I’ve enjoyed the song since it first appeared on Ketchup last summer but regarded it as a one off oddity then appeared “Show Me”. The now more popular single by Kid Ink featuring Chris Brown, in the role of TeeFlii, has climbed up the Hot 100 chart and into my heart. A blatant self-bite of “Paranoid,” but production wise, at least, it showed improvement with a Robyn S. “Show My Love” sample. The great 90s Pop-House classic is stripped down to a few choice piano plucks and placed in the same musical skeleton as “Paranoid,” and the answer of what “what does heaven sound like?” finally has a proper answer.
But two songs doesn’t make a trend, which goddamnit this site is about trends, so throw in a Flo Rida’s track with August Alsina called “Rear View” and a Chris Brown song called “Loyalty,” which is either by DJ Mustard, or someone very on point in copying this peculiar style, to pass the minimum of three being enough for a trend claim. The exact “style” was tricky to describe at first, but hearing all of these songs together highlighted their shared sonic seams. Mustard’s production on YG’s hit “My Nigga” certainly helped the minimal gangster track prosper on the social media site on Vine, because the song worked perfectly as a 6 second loop (“My Nigga My Nigga”). “Paranoid” and “Show Me,” even more so are songs that have a simple to remember Vine-able melody. The songs in this context sound like “Pop” takes on the Mustard’s usually more street leaning records and that slight target shift has made perfect records for car drives and all turn-up related functions.