By Jhantu Randall
When it comes to hip-hop, region always tends to play a big part in how its received. The South has its style, East and West certainly do too, each distinctly different yet still apart of a larger thing. We as listeners use this as a guideline as we listen to rappers expecting a particular identity depending on where they claim to reside from. The question is, what do you do when an artist blends multiple regions giving a sound that can’t quickly be identified? Well in the case of Pay Gorgeous Dre project, “Arrogant,” you keep listening.
From the first track, the production stands out, giving off a Bay Area vibe. Certain beats lead me to draw comparisons from what I liked about Smash Rockwell’s “Casual” album years ago to Dre’s work. Comparisons aside, Dre adds his own twist to the formula that helps the sound to stand out. It took a few listens but the rhymes actually stuck out more through repeated listens. Driving for the last few days, his track “Winning” became an anthem, however the following track, “The Oath” felt like it should’ve been the opener as it leads the listener to become intrigued with what would follow more than “Winning” did.
It took a lot of repeats to get used to the delivery, as the flow and the bars seemed to run on a bit even though that alone should not be looked at that as a negative criticism. In truth as a listener, some may enjoy that because it shows a glimpse of the artists’ thought process. Naming the project “Arrogant” is a risk as it sets the bar high to begin with and leads people to listen closer to see if the rhymes justify the moniker. With that in mind, one would think the title track would back that up but to myself, as a critique, songs like “Savage,” “For Me” and “These Voices” lived up to it. “Deeper” and “Nothing” were two tracks I kept going back to since I feel these beats allowed for the true test of opening up and connecting to the listener.
This may have a niche lane; in which it could propel in but its projects like this that can leave an unexpected impact. The unorthodox storytelling of Dre, kept me returning to this and enjoying it more and more as I began to pick up on certain lines that I didn’t catch at first. From listening to this out of pure curiosity, I will share that the energy is there and the bars show an artist who’s hunger is evident but it is the ability to keep it upbeat in tempo that helps it resonate. Also in an age of seven- track EP’s, being allowed the opportunity of listening and taking in a full 15-tracks is a welcomed return to normalcy when it comes to rap albums. The passion behind completing the project does lead me towards wanting to know more about the man who created it. Until that day comes, I’ll just roll down my windows and drive with “Winning” blaring from my speakers.
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