Review Summary: "What happened to all the good rock music when I was coming up, you know?"
After putting theories of being nothing more than a Nas alter ego to rest, Coney Island rapper Your Old Droog closed out 2014 with a semi-confirmed identity (Nas he ain’t, but no birth name as of yet) and a semi-debut album (a physical release of his buzzed about debut EP extended by some new cuts), and has now kicked off the new year with his second EP, Kinison
. The production on the EP eminently continues to express Droog’s fascination with all things jazz, but what’s particularly noteworthy is the loose concept of rock-based nostalgia that ties the themes of Kinison
Sonic Youth, Porno for Pyros, and Rage Against the Machine are among the acts from glory days gone by in rock history that Droog fondly names his songs after here. Rather than pay homage to the bands through heavy sampling or musical imitation, he brandishes his rock cred by means of references in his irresistible quibs. With boom-bapping bars such as, “Word to mother; as a kid I just wanted that first Rage LP with the dude burnin’ on the cover/copped one yesterday as a memento; ‘bout to hit ‘em with that Zack De La O speech impediment flow and yo/the track bomb I’m mellow; used to rage like Tom Morello; now I’m a calmer fellow” Kinison
is very much a reminiscent love letter to Droog’s influences on a witty lyrical level.
Putting Droog’s strong charisma aside, the beats from DJ Skizz, Marco Polo, and El RTNC make for the rapper’s most musically varied, engaging, and surprising project yet. While the minimalistic post-bop of “Rage Against the Machine” and big band elements found within “Homicide” do indeed show that jazz does play a prominent role like it has in his previous material, the EP boasts a diverse palette of inspiration, and Droog tackles each different kind appropriately. He cruises through the bluesy twangs and smooth funk of “Porno for Pyros,” gets downright ferocious over the frantic guitar solo loop on “Freeway Fire,” ups his confident swagger to match the fierce violins in “Sasquatch in a UFO,” applies his gruff melodies to the nightlife synths and freeform sax that comprises “Gentrify My Hood,” and even makes the instrumental of Beastie Boys’ “Pass the Mic” his own on “Get the Paper.” Nas comparisons be damned, the Kinison
EP suggests that comparisons to A Tribe Called Quest may be more appropriate, because Your Old Droog might just rejuvenate jazz rap for this generation at this rate.