Review Summary: The nastiest Nas project since Illmatic.
Nas once said “name a rapper that I ain’t influenced,” an almost irrefutable line that left even the most finicky cavilers nonplussed. But now, 13 years later, we might’ve finally found an answer to the aphorism; Your Old Droog is either the exception to the rule or its paragon. The rapper who sounds exactly like a slightly pitched down Nas is either the legend’s biggest Stan – meticulous craft, poignant punches and all – or the man himself. But let’s try to ignore, for the time being, that Droog is probably
Nas. For his very first project, Droog, said to be a former pro wiffleball player, comes out the gates hurling his plastic bat about with both the acuity of a wizened veteran and the hunger of an impetuous rookie, invoking a 90s rap ethos in his unyielding lyrical haymakers and desperation to prove his mettle. The production is also reminiscent of the mid-90s and laid out perfectly for Droog, with smooth guitar lines and jazzy atmospheres underpinning his immaculate wordplay. Take that literally, by the way; Droog has more personality and wordplay on his debut alone than Nas ever did – witty quips like “accidentally said what’s crackin’ to a blood/ Freudian crip” and “make it work for the kids like we goin’ through divorces” dousing the album in gumption and subtle levity. “Bad to the Bone” and “You Know What Time It Is” are perhaps the strongest bookends hip-hop has seen in a few years, sporting mammoth hooks and lyrical acrobatics atop brisk beats, while songs like “Nutty Bars” and “Loosey in the Store with Pennies” showcase bar after bar, unadulterated by the reprieve of a hook but still kept taut and engaging with showstoppers like “You’re just a parasite, like the Eiffel” and “guaranteed to showboat like the opening scenes of Titanic
.” In fact, if you’re struggling to finish the tape, it’s only because you keep doubling back to catch lines like the hitters interspersed throughout this paragraph. Your Old Droog
is no joke, it’s a crucible of lyrical power moves, heavyweight witticisms, and bloodthirsty battle bars. Every other rapper: shut the fuck up – this debut sick like Illmatic