Listening to albums is a full time job. Every day, new bodies of work flood iTunes and your favorite mixtape sites. I love the process of giving an album a spin from start to finish. It’s like test driving a car: wavering back and forth between committing and seeking alternatives with every turn. After a few listens, I tend to pick out favorites I religiously quote, place on playlists and recommend to friends.
The Standout is here to highlight one record from a particular album that fits the criteria above.
Album: Young Dolph’s Rich Crack Baby.
Song: “In My System” featuring Boosie BadAzz
Young Dolph is the motivational speaker of the streets. If he ever did a TED talk, and he should, it would be aptly titled “How to Get Money.” Everybody needs a friend like Dolph. Despite delivering his debut album, King Of Memphis, earlier this year, he has returned with Rich Crack Baby, another entry to his street bible.
There’s definitely a stigma to the term “crack baby.” As Dolph puts it, he’s proven society wrong by becoming successful in an environment where he was destined to fail. “When you think ‘crack baby’ in your head you think, ‘Oh, your mama on cocaine, smoking cocaine, you’re coming out fucked up,” he explains in a Genius annotation. “It went the whole way opposite with me.” Part of Rich Crack Baby is peeling back all the cars, jewelry, and charismatic talk to offer something meaningful, and this comes as soon as you click play with “In My System.”
On numerous tracks, Dolph makes it clear that he doesn’t do cocaine. Thus, the hook of “In My System” is meant to drive home the point of being conceived while his mom and dad were on the white. “I got cocaine runnin’ through my motherf**kin’ system” is simply him stating that it’s in his DNA. And guess what? He was able to make it a hot line and a hot hook at the same time.
I like to consider myself an avid Dolph fan, soaking up release after release for that extra morning push, and “In My System” ranks up there with his best material. The first verse starts off with what might be one of the illest birth stories in hip-hop history: “You lean the pot and scrape the bowl and you get Dolph / My Mom and Daddy f*cked around and made a boss.” Not only did they create a go-getter, but they also birthed someone who makes absurd, yet believable statements like “I clocked in when I was 12 and never clocked out.” Only Dolph could get away with that. Somehow, the unbelievable line matches up with his reality. Whether it’s in the streets while on tour or in the booth, he’s converted himself into a workaholic in order to survive.
Speaking of survival, Boosie Badazz’s picture must appear next to the word in the rap dictionary. We don’t need to run down his entire saga but he has beaten the odds more than once, most notably doing prison time and surviving cancer. The fighter’s instinct is what makes him a stellar feature choice alongside Young Dolph. Boosie must see pieces of himself in his Memphis brother since their stories mirror each other so closely. Both are proven underdogs with hits under their belts, and both possess a loyal underground fan base that ride for them no matter what.
Boosie’s story is close to Dolph’s in the sense that they both got into the street game early as teens. Back in the day, he trusted his family to guide him, but because he’s now wiser, he can reflect on what was really happening. “My cousin shoulda told me go to school and read my books,” he spits, “Instead he took me to the kitchen and showed me how to cook.” This led to some very risky choices, like him selling cocaine to his uncle. In case you thought his ruthlessness couldn’t get any higher, he made him pay the full price. Not even a discount for the family in the cold game.
The parallels don’t stop at their upbringing either. When you look at both careers, they have made huge names for themselves in the South. Boosie had his mainstream push almost a decade ago, yet maintained his legendary status under the Mason-Dixon line. He can hit any city out there on the rap chitlin circuit, sell out, and make several racks in a night. Young Dolph is coming up in that same way. While Boosie was locked up, Dolph was just emerging. It wasn’t until around High Class Street Music 5: Plug’s Best Friend‘s release in early 2015 that his career took off. Having been out for almost a year around that same time, Boosie was still trying to find his footing again. Sure, he was doing shows and putting out music here and there, but the hype surrounding his release had already worn off.
So what did Boosie do? He quietly took over the first five months of 2016 with full-length albums every month, including a head-scratching, controversial one with C-Murder. There hasn’t been a better time to be a fan. The timing of “In My System” is important, too. Had this collaboration happened earlier, we wouldn’t be getting Boosie in top form. He’s been on a creative high lately and that’s reflected in his verse.
There is no argument to this statement: Young Dolph is buzzing bigger than ever. Still, he could learn a lesson or two from Boosie. While he’s mastered the art of paper chasing, Dolph is missing elements of emotion in his music. Since starting out, his moves show that he’s able to adapt and expand in order for his career to thrive. The next step is turning some of his life into passion and pain in the beats. Boosie can churn out bangers all the time if he wanted to, but the material that earned him that legendary status is his deep records that touched fans at their core.
Dr. Dre once told Kendrick Lamar that it’s easy to get everything you want, but it’s harder to keep it. Young Dolph is there, but his next 365 days are crucial. Does he reach higher heights or shrink to a smaller, loyal base like Boosie? What improvements will we see to his future music, if any? These are all the standard but fascinating questions that arise when an artist hits their stride in the industry. The sky could be the limit for Young Dolph, but he’ll only want it if he can bring his dollars, some strippers, and ad-lib the whole experience.