Your Old Droog – “The Yodfather” review

Your Old Droog is a Ukrainian-American underground MC who caught my attention when he dropped his self-titled debut. Many actually first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar, but eventually became a legend in his own right off later projects such as Packs as well as It Wasn’t Even Close, TIME & more recently the Nicholas Craven-produced YOD Wave that dropped this past spring. YOD Stewart & Yodney Dangerfield both weren’t as great in my opinion, but certainly had it’s highlights at the same time & had interest in his 8th EP over here which I don’t mind in light of him going on Twitter saying he’ll drop a 6-track EP the next time someone complains to him about another 7-track EP.

The “WW3” freestyle kicks off things off with a drumless soul loop & Droog talking about wanting to get this money before the world ends whereas the Tony Touch freestyle works in a flute courtesy of Sadhugold calling himself the rap Leo DiCaprio. The David Bowie freestyle jumps on top of some impressive vocal chops throughout to talk about being on the road to victory just before “Francis Ford Coppola” comes through with a jazzy boom bap sound expressing his plan to achieve the impossible.

Droogie-La” is most definitely my favorite song on the EP from Madlib once again putting his unique ear for samples on display to Droog’s hardcore lyricism while “Zubin Mehta” starts off in drumless chipmunk soul territory talking about standing out in the pack like Lil B. The Munchos freestyle returns to a jazzier sound warning that your homie don’t want the fade kin to song endings with the 3rd & final installment of “90 from the Line” ending the EP in abstract boom bap fashion.

If this is the last EP we’re getting from him in 2022, then I’d say it’s a solid conclusion to the 4 that we got. The production’s just as decent as the last 2 were, but Droog most definitely has one of the best pen-games in the underground today & he definitely makes it a point to remind everyone that here. Whether it’s an EP or an album next year, I’’m always looking forward to hearing new music from him.

Score: 3.5/5

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Your Old Droog – “Yodney Dangerfield” review

This is the 7th EP from Ukrainian-American emcee Your Old Droog. Catching my attention when he dropped his self-titled debut, many actually first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. He eventually became a legend in his own right off later projects such as Packs as well as It Wasn’t Even Close, TIME & the Nicholas Craven-produced YOD Wave. YOD Stewart came out this past spring & it was ok, but the singles Droog has dropped in the last month had me raised my anticipation for Yodney Dangerfield immensely.

Of all 3 of the EPs that Droog has dropped this year, Yodney Dangerfield has to be right behind YOD Wave for my favorite so far. The bars that he spits here are like earworms in a good way & the production compared to YOD Stewart is significantly better too. If “The Return of Sasquatch” is supposed to be on YODFATHER, then my anticipation is very high because it’s one of my favorite singles of the year.

“The Unknown Comic” opens up the EP with an abstract boom bap beat taking about sending his opposition to the G League whereas “The Hand of YOD” works in some pianos to confess that people are just mad at him because he outgrew his peers.“$50K of Brunch” takes a soulful route thanks to Nicholas Craven talking about choosing to flip that bread than have brunch with Hov, but then “The Man on the Moon” mixes a crooning loop & strings provided by Jonwayne to air out some hacks. The song “The Simpsons” shoots for a cloudier yet dustier aesthetic talking about being the only one at the top while the penultimate track “The Tonight Show” embraces the funk to remind everyone that hoes will treat you like an OutKast unless you got some Stankonia. The Sadhugold-produced “Triple Lindy” ends the album by grimly promising to get his competition in their roots like Black Thought.

Score: 3.5/5

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Your Old Droog – “YOD Stewart” review

Your Old Droog is a 32 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York who caught my attention when he dropped his self-titled debut & many first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. Nonetheless, he’s reached legend status at this point by proving that he was in his own lane off later projects such as Packs as well as It Wasn’t Even Close & TIME. He just his incredible 5th EP YOD Wave produced entirely by Nicholas Craven almost 3 months ago at this point & is following it up in the form of a 6th EP.

“Nightmares & Dreams” is a psychedelic opener produced by Conductor Williams talking about appreciating the simpler things in life whereas the drumless yet atmospheric “Mind Your Business” saying we’re better off if we don’t stick our noses where it don’t belong. “I Knew You Was a Bitch” works in some pianos to call out an ex of his leading into “Toxic Love” being a more abstract cut detailing how poisonous this woman was to him.

The song “Love & Basketball” mixes in a soul sample & a guitar to describe his new bitch while the penultimate track “Go to Sleep” has a jazzy boom bap flare to it thanks to Tha God Fahim talking about staying home some days to cash out. “The Ballad of Krutoy” ends the EP with some organ melodies admitting that he feels like crying sometimes even though the tears won’t just come out.

Although I find YOD Wave to be more superior, that’s not to say YOD Stewart isn’t worth checking out for those who fuck with Droog as much as I do. The production takes it back to the more abstract vibes of some of his more recent work & I admire how personal the lyrics tend to be during it’s short runtime.

Score: 3.5/5

Tha God Fahim – “Dump Gawd: 6 Ring Champ” review

This is the 19th full-length album from Atlanta emcee/producer Tha God Fahim. Coming up as an affiliate of Griselda Records alongside Mach-Hommy & Your Old Droog, he also has a incredibly vast discography with a couple of standouts being Breaking Through tha Van Allen Belts & Dump Assassins. Last year alone, Fahim dropped his 18th album Dump Gawd: Stock Lord & the 2 Dump Gawd: Shot Clock King EPs produced by Nicholas Craven. However, is bringing him & a couple other producers on board for 6 Ring Champ.

Your Old Droog tags along for the opener “Titanism” as he & Fahim talk about keeping their engines running with a horn sample provided by the latter whereas “Iron Mic” goes into dusty boom bap territory thanks to Camoflauge Monk saying he does this for his own liking. “4 Matic” works in a drumless loop provided by Nicholas Craven to spit some battle raps leading into the chipmunk soul-heavy “Love n Hate” talking about how people be acting towards him.

Meanwhile on “Job Well Done”, we have Droog & Fahim linking back up on some jazzy boom bap shit reflecting on their come ups just before the self-produced “Countless Nights, Endless Days” incorporates some sinister piano melodies talking about being bad to the metronome. “61 in a Game” has a more peaceful tone giving motherfuckers hope, but then Droog returns 1 last time for the dusty “Checkers” clapping back at their competition.

“O.W.J. (Off-White Jordans)” talks about running numbers up all night over a slick Craven instrumental while the song “Stay Down ‘Till You Come Up” is self-explanatory as far as subject matter goes & Fahim himself provides a dejecting atmosphere to it. The penultimate track “Drivin’ Me Crazy” goes back into soul turf confessing how these last few days have been for him & “The Last Shot” is a jazzy finisher expressing his desire to live free of pressures.

Much like Stock Lord & Shot Clock King, I think 6 Ring Champ is yet another example of Fahim leveling up as an artist. He sounds hungrier than ever on the mic & the production is so incredibly consistent whether it be the man himself or the outside collaborators he brought in.

Score: 4/5

Your Old Droog – “YOD Wave” review

This is the 5th EP from Ukrainian-American emcee/producer Your Old Droog. Emerging in the underground off his self-titled debut, many first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. Nonetheless, the guy has reached legend status at this point by proving that he was in his own lane off later albums such as Packs & It Wasn’t Even Close. But coming fresh off the incredibly conceptual TIME & Space Bar over the summer & fall respectively, Droog is kicking off his 2022 by enlisting Nicholas Craven to fully produce YOD Wave.

“Fela Kuti” kicks off the whole EP with some gorgeous piano melodies saying he’s being away for too long whereas “Scooby Snacks” takes a more soulful boom bap route looking back on where he came from before getting back to business. “.500” works in some dramatic string sections talking about having less than nothing just before the organ-laced “Purple Rain Freestyle (Game, Blouses)” comes through with some braggadocio. The song “Black n Red Huaraches” with Tha God Fahim finds the 2 comparing their lives to operas even though the instrumental is my least favorite on the whole EP while the penultimate track “Lost Love” gets romantic over a drumless chipmunk soul sample. Fahim returns once more for the closer “Body Right, Mind Right” to jump on top of some solemn piano chords talking about taking no one’s advice.

Coming from someone who’s been down with Droog since the beginning, I genuinely believe that YOD Wave is the best EP he’s made yet. It’s not as conceptual as his last 2 albums, but he’s just spitting nothing but pure heat for 20 minutes accompanied by some of the most astonishing production that Craven had to offer.

Score: 9/10

Mach-Hommy – “Balens Cho” review

This is the 11th EP from New Jersey emcee Mach-Hommy. Blowing up in the underground off his Griselda-backed sophomore effort H.B.O. (Haitian Body Odor), he & Tha God Fahim fell out with them shortly after only to reconcile this past Christmas & then Mach returned to the label over the spring with one of best albums of the year: Pray for Haiti. But in light of his Dump Gawds colleague Your Old Droog dropping Space Bar last week, Mach is continuing to apply pressure by dropping Balens Cho.

After the “La Prèmiere Bougie” intro, the first song “Labou” starts the whole thing off with Nicholas Craven weaving in some incredible saxophones wittily talking about being the new Rick Rubin & Russell Simmons whereas “La Deuxième” is just a decent interlude. “Separation of the Sheep & the Goats” incorporates a sweet vocal sample humbly opening up about his blessings leading into the “Magnum Band” sequel produced by the late Ras G which I’ll go as far to say is superior & darker than the predecessor.

After the “La Troisième” interlude, we have Mach talking about making it out the hood rich for “Lajan Sal” accompanied by an instrumental that gives me crazy Italian monster vibes just before the “La Quatrième” interlude comes into play. “Wooden Nickels” is probably the most heart-wrenching cut on the EP cautioning shady motherfuckers while the song “Traditional” cleverly uses the same rhyme scheme throughout over a healthy mix of horns & whistling even though it could’ve been a little bit longer.

After the “La Cinquième” interlude, Tha God Fahim tags along for the penultimate track “Money Magnets” getting on some boom bap shit talking about dominating the rap game & “Self Luh” finishes the EP with Mach encouraging listeners to treat their bodies like it’s the only one they got on top of a comforting beat from Conductor Williams.

I’ve been fiending for this shit hard ever since it was originally announced a month ago & my God is it a great follow-up to Pray for Haiti. The excessive amount of interludes are annoying because they’re all so short that there’s no point of them being on there, but the production is as equally fantastic & Mach still manages to drop bars that’ll make you run it back.

Score: 4/5

Blu – “The Color Blu(e) review

Blu is a 38 year old MC from Los Angeles, California who became notorious in the underground in 2007 when he & Exile dropped their debut album Below the Heavens: In Hell Happy with Your New Imaginary Friend. Since then, he’s managed to put out a handful of collab projects & solo efforts of his own. The most notable being: Her Favorite Colo(u)r, the M.E.D.-assisted Bad Neighbor produced by Madlib, the Oh No-produced A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night & the Damu the Fudgemunk-produced Ground & Water. But with the 1-year anniversary of the 3rd Blu & Exile album Miles: From an Interlude Called Life passing by over the summer, Blu is enlisting Nature Sounds to back up his 7th full-length solo outing right here.

“I Am Blu(e)” starts off the album with some keyboard embellishments going on about how magnificent he is whereas “Everyday Blu(e)s” has a bit of a jazz flare to it saying he shakes off negativity every day. “People Call Me Blu(e)” incorporates an ill ass blues sample reminding everyone who the fuck he is, but then “Because the Sky’s Blu(e)” harmoniously proclaims himself as a reflection of God.

Meanwhile on “You Ain’t Never Been Blu(e)”, we have Blu jumping on top of some pianos to get conscious leading into “I Was Born to Be Blu(e)” flipping the Ella Fitzgerald cut of the same name telling us he was destined for this. “Blu(e)r Than Blu[e]” fuses orchestral & boom bap bragging about himself just before “We’re Darker Than Blu(e)” serves as a heavenly pro-black theme.

The song “Mr. Blu(e) Sky” is an upbeat ode to living in the moment while the penultimate track “Mr. Blu(e)” has some crooning vocals & trumpets sending a message to the youth. “Blu(e) World” ends the album with an angelic sample & paying tribute to the coolest kid in his city named Ricky.

This dude’s been in the game for nearly 15 years at this point & still come together with incredible music like it’s nothing because I think The Color Blu(e) is amongst his best solo efforts. Blu’s jots down some of the most personal lyrics of his entire career & the production is very creative.

Score: 4/5

Gift of Gab – “Finding Inspiration Somehow” review

Gift of Gab was a 50 year old MC from Sacramento, California who came up as 1/2 of the duo Blackalicious & a member of the Quannum Projects collective almost 3 decades ago. However, it wasn’t until the spring of 2004 when he broke out solo by dropping 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up. This was followed up with Escape 2 Mars as well as The Next Logical Progression & Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again! but with his passing over the summer, he was able to complete 1 last album & Nature Sounds is now putting it out.

After the intro, the first song “Slaugtah Dem (Godly)” has a thunderous instrumental with Gab getting in his battle rap bag whereas “Going Farther” works in a boom bap instrumental with some plinky keys & the title basically speaks for itself in terms of content. “The Gentrification Song” has a moodier sound addressing his feelings on the process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more wealthy residents & businesses just before “You Gon’ Make It in the End” with Lateef the Truthspeaker & Vursatyl is a touching moment on the album telling the listeners to push on.

Meanwhile for “Vice Grip”, we have Gift of Gab switching in between rhyme schemes over an explosive beat from Nick Andre leading into him describing “The World Without Money” & the instrumental is funky as Hell. I like the atmospheric shift on “Alchemy” as Gab tells the listener to keep it going, but “Enter the Dragon” has a more cinematic sound ascending to another level.

“A Weekend in Venice” is more of an R&B-tinged interlude while the song “The Idea of America” has a funnier sound with Gab continuing the streams of consciousness. The penultimate track “Breathe In” is a more tropical cut saying all you need is love & then “Back to the Light” couldn’t have ended the album any better by providing a beautiful glimmer of hope despite the dark days.

Overall, I think Finding Inspiration Somehow is a bittersweet swan song from the late Sacramento emcee. It showcases why a truly one of a kind lyricist lyricist he was, the production’s on point & I love the miniminal amount of guest MCs being featured. Just exactly how he would’ve wanted it to be.

Score: 4/5

Your Old Droog – “TIME” review

This is the 7th full-length album from Ukrainian-American emcee/producer Your Old Droog. Emerging in the underground off his self-titled debut, many first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. Nonetheless, the cat has reached legend status at this point by proving that he was in his own lane off later projects such as Packs & It Wasn’t Even Close. But just a little over 4 months after letting his homie Tha God Fahim produce his 4th EP Tha Wolf on Wall St. from front to back, Droog is dropping TIME ahead of 2 singles in the last week

After the titular intro, the first song “The Magic Watch” speaks on finding a watch that will take you back to any moment in time over some strings & dusty drums whereas “Please Listen to My Jew Tape” is a mellowed out reflection of Droog’s career up to this point. The late MF DOOM comes along to advocate self-education on “Dropout Boogie” as Edan incorporates a pots & pans loop into boom bap production while “So High” is a summery weed smoking anthem.

Meanwhile on “Lost Time”, we have Droog hopping on a drumless instrumental explaining that he has the chips to prove that he’s a winner prior to flexing his lyrical prowess on the slyly-produced “You’re So Sick”. We go into a more guitar-driven direction for the depressive “Quiet Time” leading into Aesop Rock & eLZhi stopping through for the exuberant, pleasant “Field of Dreams”. Blu & Mick Jenkins later fill in on “One Move”, which is about the choices you make accompanied by a jazzy beat from Quelle Chris.

“The Other Way” is a dreary depiction of him avoiding negativity while “A Hip Hop Lullaby” is a smoky look back on riding the train with his mom. “Madson Ave” is a homage to the titular road in New York with slick guitar passages provided by 88-Keys & just before the “4:49” outro, the final song “No Time” taps in with Wiki for a meditative ballad about loving your family & friends when they’re still here.

Didn’t think Droog would drop another project on us this fast, but I’m glad he did because this is an absolute high point in his career The production is a purist’s wet dream & lyrically, you get to hear him at his most personal.

Score: 4/5

R.A. the Rugged Man – “All My Heroes Are Dead’ review

R.A. the Rugged Man is an MC from New York that’s been at it since the very early 90’s. However it wouldn’t be until 2004 that he would make his full-length debut with Die, Rugged Man, Die. This was followed up in 2013 with Legends Never Die which was so fantastic, that it actually gave this reviewer inspiration to name himself Legends Will Never Die. Fans have been waiting for a 3rd album & 7 years later, here we finally are.

The album kicks off with the title track, where R.A. triumphantly announces his return & I love how dynamic the production gets. The next song “Legendary Loser” talks about being a scumbag over a vintage boom bap beat from Psycho Les while the song “Golden Oldies” with Slug sees the 2 paying tribute to their influences over a soulful boom bap beat. The song “Wondering (How to Believe)” gets conscious over a gorgeous piano instrumental while the track “Dragon Fire” with Ghostface Killah, Kool G Rap & Masta Killa shows that all 4 still got it lyrically over a grimy beat.

The song “All Systems Go” talks about how deadly he is over a punchy beat with a slowed down sample & after the “Cancelled” skit, the track “Angelic Boy” talks about killing a 6 year old boy & getting killed by the cops over a tense instrumental. The song “Gotta Be Dope” with A-F-R-O talks about being ill on the mic over a boom bap beat with C-Lance with a vintage sample while the track “First Born” talks about becoming a father over a Mr. Green instrumental that enhances the emotion. Especially with that piano loop.

The song “E.K.N.Y. (Ed Koch New York)” with Inspectah Deck sees the 2 talking about growing up in the Big Apple over an eerie beat while the track “Hate Speech” talks about just that over an ominous boom bap beat. The song “Living Through a Screen (Everything’s a Lie” gets back on the conscious tip over a somber instrumental while the track “Contra-Dictionary” talks about hypocrisy over a hypnotic beat. “The Slayer’s Club” is a phenomenal all-star posse cut while the song “Life of the Party” speaks for itself over a classy boom bap beat from Prince Paul.

“The Big Snatch” takes a look into what’s in R.A.’s world over some plinky keys & a tuba while the track “Who Do We Trust?” with Immortal Technique sees the 2 talking about the system over a sitar-inflicted boom bap beat. The penultimate song “Malice of Mammon” stays on the political tip over a haunting beat & then after the “Sean riP” interlude, “The After Life” pays tribute to Sarah Smith over an angelic boom bap beat.

For the long wait, it’s pretty solid. A little too long running at 77 minutes but the feature list is top notch, the production’s on point & R.A.’s lyricism has only gotten more clever with time. If you wanna see someone remind you why he’s a veteran in the underground, then give this a listen.

Score: 4/5