“Who I Be” – Review Of Daz Dillinger’s Only On The Left Side

08.29.08 9 years ago 23 Comments

Since the beginning of time, the ability to adapt has been paramount to all in regards to survival. The only other scenario is to hone one’s skill enough that you can hang your hat on for continued existence. This is no more evident than in today’s Hip-Hop landscape where artists switch up their persona to appease fickle listeners. Daz Dillinger isn’t one of them. Instead he’s chosen to remain true to what brought him in the game some 16 years ago: Gangsta Rap. Although it hasn’t been in vogue on the mainstream for sometime, with Only On The Left Side, Daz continues to forge ahead creating the music he knows best.

Daz comes out swinging with “Squeeze” as he wastes no time getting into some gun talk over a deep bass riff and soaring synths that are reminiscent of “Gin and Juice.” Keeping the “West Coast Vs. The Rest” mentality alive, he relishes any opportunity to squeeze the trigger. On “My Summer Vacation,” he spins a tale about heading out of town to push weight, while escaping heat from the feds back home. While lines like “breaking off rocks like Barney Rubble/we smokin’ niggas/they don’t want no trouble” may not be quotable material, his bravado helps make up for his lyrical inadequacies.

No matter the weather, Daz can’t leave the gangbanging alone. The lively “Only On The Left Side” will surely get all the Crips (and wannabes) on the dance floor. “Meal Ticket” finds him and Krayzie Bone recounting their paper chase and enjoying the spoils of their labor, as the beat takes a more melodic tone to cater to one of Cleveland’s finest. The same can be said on “Me And My Cuzzin,” as big cousin Snoop drops by to help Daz reminisce on growing up in the LBC. On “Regretz” he lets down his guard just long enough to admit that he’s made a few mistakes along the way. Showing why he’s a vet, this track smartly comes near the end of the album as to not interrupt the flow.

It’s only when Daz reaches out of his West Coast comfort zone do things tend to falter a bit. “In The Hood” featuring Swizz Beatz and the Obie Trice assisted “My Wayz R Shady” both cater other regions, while Daz sounds out of place when not backed by more familiar West Coast soundscapes. “I’m Tha Dopeman” comes off as redundant and unnecesary, as does almost every song with Daz rapping of his drug escapades. Ultimately it’s the production that keeps this album afloat as Daz and Soopafly assembled an assortment of beats that are definitely gangsta certified, yet don’t sound dated. The tracks flow together and deliver a collection of songs perfect for cruising down Crenshaw or Nostrand Ave.

In a time when older artists are scrambling to appease younger listeners, Daz stuck to what he knows best: A West Coast sound, gun play, tough talk, money, chicks and drugs. Sure, he’s been making music for almost two decades and maybe his flow hasn’t aged well. But Daz is a Gangsta rapper, so he’s gonna make Gangsta music. It won’t take him to the top of the charts, but he won’t lose any of his fans and might gain a few new ones if he can catch a little buzz. All while sticking to his guns. Now that’s gangsta.

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