Album Review: Smoke DZA – Rugby Thompson

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Hip-Hop, Music Review
Tags: ,

Artist: Smoke DZA
Album: Rugby Thompson
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Label: High Time Records/Cinematic Music Group

The rapper/producer collaboration is nothing new. Starting with elaborate beginnings with Eric B. and Rakim, Gang Starr, EPMD to current beloved acts such as Madvillain, It is never a dull moment whenever a rapper wants to venture off to a new sound or create dream combos. The results are no always perfect however, as lack of chemistry and versatility can often lead to disappointment. With Rugby Thompson, the tag-team effort of Harlem emcee Smoke DZA and buzzing Brooklyn producer Harry Fraud, they manage to create a fun and solid project that exploits the pros moreso the cons.

As the J.E.T.S. cohort, DZA could easily be boxed in with the stoner rap his general Curren$y and other members are tied into. And who can blame anyone, as “Smoke” is in his name. As tales of smoking on the finest doobies and having kickbacks with other dude’s girlfriends do make their way onto this album, DZA manages to step out of skeptic’s comfort zone. On the ghetto dreams tale “Playground Legend”, he talks on the youth in the hood that get caught up in the ills of street life and destroying their potential. As that was a glimmer of what the Kush God can do lyrically, he also spazzes with a fury on the chilling “New Jack” named after the Hardcore wrestling star of the same name.

The wrestling references doesn’t end there, as he brings in the powerhouses of New York’s underground rap scene to pound into listener’s domes with bully bars, from Sean Price (“Fuck Ya Mother”) to Action Bronson (“Turnbuckle Music”). DZA tags in nicely with the two providing a good double punch, but it’s “Lo Horsement” which samples The Four Horsemen theme song that takes the cake in his fandom for Table Bombs and elbow drops.

As far as production goes, Harry Fraud is the MVP throughout. Providing engaging backdrops and synths that amplify DZA’s sound, Fraud continues to add to his resume since exploding onto the scene with French Montana’s club hit “Shot Caller”. “Ashtray”, which features fellow piff blowers Domo Genesis and Schoolboy Q, is the biggest highlight here, as all three blends in perfectly with the exquisite beat that is provided for them.

With the brevity of the album clocking roughly under 40-minutes, Rugby Thompson is an easy listen from start to finish that leaves a lot to be desired. DZA and Fraud works well here, though the album could feel as if displays the producer’s strengths over the rapper’s growth. I kinda receive flashbacks of Curren$y’s 2011 Covert Coup EP, where his good ear for beats turned on its head and Alchemist completely outshined him. All in all, this won’t be on any year’s end list, but definitely will be in CD Changers and rotation for the time being this summer.

Overall: 7.5/10

Highlights:

  • “New Jack”
  • “Ashtray”
  • “Fuck Ya Mother”
  • “A Prelude To Judgment Day”
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