New York rapper broke onto the scene a few years back after there was some confusion as to whether Your Old Droog was actually Nas in disguise. Not quite the conventional way for any artist to start off but it managed to gain him some traction. I do believe that as his career has gone on he has strayed away from Nas comparison, I certainly don’t hear the similarity on his latest albu, Packs.
However, I do hear an MF DOOM influence throughout. The gritty vocal style and the very old school New York hip hop sound throws it back the first DOOM album, Operation Doomsday. Droog even references the song “Hey” briefly on once of the cuts here. The very confident track “I Only” seems to be pulling directly from DOOM, production wise.
Comparisons aside, Your Old Droog’s Packs is a great album.
Packs begins with what initially seems like an anti-police anthem, “G.K.A.C. (Gotta Kill A Cop)”. I almost wrote this song off as violence towards (or anyone for that matter) police isn’t something I support but I realised I made the mistake with more listens. The song actually follows the story of a crazy, messed up guy in a gang who gets the urge in his mind to go “put that pig in a blanket”. It’s a refreshing take on the police brutality issue in hip hop, where we usually hear the perspective of the police harming the innocent, but there are cases of people harming innocent police officers as well, both serious issues that are worth talking about.
There’s also the “White Rappers” track, where Droog talks about how the colour of your skin doesn’t matter in hip hop, “What matters is the beats and if the emcee goes in”. Sure, it seems obvious on the surface, but there is a sentimental aspect to what he’s saying.
“Rapman” is another standout, where Droog talks about a fictional superhero called ‘Rapman’ and his signal in the sky is a microphone.
“You Can Do It! (Give Up)” is a near piano ballad of a track; the instrumental and the tone of his vocals reminding me a little of Biz Markie. The track follows a few different stories and Droog talks us through how each person never quite succeeded through life. The first guy who never made it as a basketball player and he’s overweight watching All Stars from the sidelines; the girl who became addicted to plastic surgery due to pressures and never made it as a model; and the last guy, 10 years on and he’s still gotten nowhere with his rap career. It’s a hard hitting track, and it shines a light on the people who just don’t make it with what they want to do, despite giving everything they can.
Packs features excellent guest verses from Danny Brown (as always) and Edan & Wiki, who both perform very well on the relentless track “Help”, which features the fantastic sampling of “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock.
I’m expecting Packs to be one of the year’s best hip hop releases by the end, Your Old Droog is someone you want to start listening to, don’t sleep on him.