Still standing after shaking off faulty racketeering charges, DJ Drama remains one of the biggest street A&R’s in the game. The Gangsta Grillz mixtape series still prevails as a deal breaker in solidifying an artist’s independent grind and Drama’s connections with T.I.’s Grand Hustle imprint is one of the strongest in Hip-Hop. Out to pay the bills in a more practical fashion, Drama’s back with the 2nd commercial installment of Gangsta Grillz: The Album; a middling compilation that manages to get the least out of every one of its big name features.
The original Gangsta Grillz Album featured a diverse guest list and focused its marketing on the streets with singles like “Feds Takin’ Pictures,” but for the sequel, Drama unapologetically employs a Southern heavy roster and sets his eyes on the MTV limelight. The first single “Day Dreaming,” helmed by a snazzy Drumma boy and even snazzier Akon chorus, is tailor-made for the radio and features a (singing) T.I. and Snoop Dogg giving the clubs the pipe dream treatment. Elsewhere, it’s smooth sailing with Nas and Scarface Marsha Ambrosius in tow for the radiant “Yacht Music” with Willie The Kid on deck and Marsha Ambrosius at the rudder.
It’s definitely a perk to have rappers like Rick Ross, Flo Rida and Ludacris on speed dial in your Blackberry, but getting them to perform to the best of their abilities may be another accomplishment in itself. Tracks like “Love For Money” and “I’m Fresh” suffer from bloated tracklisting and conflicting styles of the various rappers over beats by the likes of Zaytoven and V12 The Hitman. The dope boy fresh of “Ridiculous” is a good example of artists thriving in their intended element, opposed to Styles P. echoing sentiments about “Pimpin’ At Easy.” And Drama could have been a little less “Aphilliated” with his studio time seeing that Willie The Kid and LA The Darkman appear 5 times each. Those rhymes would be better suited for a collaborative album on the brother’s behalf.
Throwaway bars and beats from A-listers only equates to C-level results but doesn’t nearly reveal the letdown with potential of what could have been. Gangsta Grillz: The Album Vol.2 packs the occasional punch but never delivers a K.O. blow. Hopefully next time, Mr. Thanksgiving won’t be so generous in greenlighting lukewarm material no matter who the contributor is.