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“DD Review: Your Old Droog – It Wasn’t Even Close.”

Score: 8.5/10

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According to Discogs, It Wasn’t Even Close, the work of Brooklyn rapper Your Old Droog, was produced by Sadhugold, who hails from Philly and “has a thing for high-pitched frequencies.”

One reason why It Wasn’t Even Close works is that it SOUNDS tired, the way any work in hip-hop should, given the genre’s own gimping gait these days. That is to say, he doesn’t SOUND like some dumba** who still thinks rap is fresh if you spit it conventionally over conventional, DJ Hi-Tek production or whatever (not to diss on Hi-Tek but that’s just the first example I thought of). Actually the emcee even gets into this theme right away in “Gyros,” how it all becomes repetition, almost like coming to the same point of land like in The Blair Witch Project: “I’m the best / But it’s like if you don’t scream it all the time it ain’t the truth”. He’s been seeing the hype machine, I guess, the aesthetics, the pop stars getting naked or frat boys like Post Malone bragging about wealth and passing it off as art.

I can’t stress this enough though: the overall production of It Wasn’t Even Close is what makes this sucker go. Bandcamp did a story on Sadhugold last summer, from the way it looks, a relatively young beatmaker whose product aligns itself somewhere between the deliberate eeriness of RZA and the kind of surrealist-vaudeville high jinks of Count Bass D and Madlib, etc., who worked on Mm… Food.

It so happens that Your Old Droog sounds just like DOOM, very ironic indeed since he’s even got his villainousness on a track, “RST” (along with a dude who I think sounds suspiciously like Mike Spitz, though maybe I’m wrong). I wouldn’t really classify this as good or bad… I mean I don’t think there’s an algorithmic equation that dictates that one day all good rappers will sound just like DOOM, but then again the verbal style does go well with that overall weariness, the “consciousness” of the fact that rap, not to say isn’t as “cool” as it once was, maybe isn’t just such a cop-out, sure-fire stylistic ticket to making fresh music, with stuff like this new Logic album and Rat King just sounding hopelessly stale. This isn’t “party” music: it’s sort of gritty the way Born Like This was crossed with a kind of Ka type of spareness and psychosis. DOOM gets on “RST” and sounds delightfully drugged out and on point, with pairings like “Clowns and clones / Sneaky as skull and bones / Wire taps buggin’ phones / Keys to a dozen homes” and “Elephant in the room / King Kong on the couch”. Even with his laid-back, almost catatonic delivery and slow pace compared with other up-and-comings like Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak, it’s just the reality that he’s spitting NOTHING wack, and still maintaining that ability to weave goofy and cartoonish imagery in with street life in classic hip-hop form, that makes his appearance here memorable and really seems to almost singlehandedly cement It Wasn’t Even Close as a quality album. On “Chasing Ghosts,” Droog’s got Roc Marciano in the cut but just seems to want to spit his own bars all day, which should serve right there to prove what a natural emcee he is on the mic. Again, the beat is spare, almost ambient, going for a spookier vibe and getting refreshingly away from that played-out boom-bap sh**.

 

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