One could surmise that the stateside explosion of EDM is in part thanks to the slowing down of hip-hop tracks over the last decade. The raucous element of stadium/Tunnel bangers like DMX’s “Party Up,” T.I.’s “Bring Em Out,” or Lil Jon’s “Get Low” was traded for scaled back, double-time, southern bounce anthems, which lacked the balls-to-the-wall, hands-in-the-air style of what preceded. Naturally, people still wanted to party to higher energy tracks, so they turned to electronic dance music, which is all about the massive drops and the pandemonium that follows. What ended up happening in nightlife was the dissolution of open format, with clubs either being branded as “hip-hop” or “house”, with crowds almost divided by race.
While EDM’s popularity has begun to wane, hip-hop has made a big return to nightlife via DJ Mustard, who ironically interpolates lots of old house and techno tracks for his hits. “Barbi Girl,” “Rhythm Is A Dancer,” and “Show Me Love” have been recycled into 100 BPM, R&B versions, and unsurprisingly, the tracks get a similar response to their original uptempo counterparts when dropped in a set. But while Mustard has figured out the formula for success, his contribution to the culture is something much bigger: the resurrection of the West Coast.
My first experience with Mustard was via Tyga’s “Rack City,” which was one of the first 100 BPM hits after a ridiculously long dry spell, with every popular song landing at opposite extremes of either 78 or 128 BPM. Dubbed the “ratchet” sound by L.A. club-goers, the lyrics were nasty, the bass was heavy, and the track was propelled by a signature “Hey” vocal sample every other bar, much like many Southern songs that came before. Mustard had discovered that people still wanted to bounce, but wanted to dance as well.
A year or two later, I watched the L.A. hip-hop scene transform virtually overnight. Clubs that were previously known for “open format” were requesting me to “play ratchet” the entire night. Los Angeles was no longer interested in the Rick Ross, LMFAO, or Lil Wayne hits; they knew what they wanted, which was a playlist consisting of mostly tracks that had the “Mustard on the beat, hoe” drop at the beginning. With requests for Ty Dolla $ign and YG album cuts, it was clear a new movement had begun.
YG’s My Krazy Life, produced entirely by Mustard, has been called a classic by some (not this critic), thanks to its employment of classic west coast sounds, styles, and skits. On Mustard’s quick follow-up, its clear that he has taken a cue from a certain headphone mogul, in creating what is essentially his answer to Dr. Dre’s 2001. It even begins with a track called “Low Low”, an obvious homage to the lowrider sketch “Lolo” that opens Aftermath’s original, unofficial sequel to The Chronic.
10 Summers is perfectly sewn together as an album, with each track strategically placed, flawlessly leading into the next one, as it’s clear Mustard’s history as a DJ has come into play. The influence of his forefathers is heard all over the record, and because the west has been so quiet over the last decade, its very refreshing. Tracks like “Ghetto Tales” has bits of “Boyz In The Hood” in it, while the Dom Kennedy helmed “Throw Your Hood Up” has a bassline that would make DJ Quik jealous. Its clear Mustard has done his homework.
Mustard has also done an incredible job of arranging great posse cuts, many of which are highly likely to fill dancefloors over the next few months. The simple pianos and heavy bass of “No Reason” creates an infectious groove for each YG, Jeezy, Nipsey Hussle, and RJ to spit on, while Lil Wayne, Big Sean, YG, and Lil Boosie charge “Face Down” into an unapologetic strip club banger. And get ready, thanks to 2 Chainz hook on “Giuseppe”, shortly you’re going to hear everyone saying, “You can’t walk in my Giuseppe shoes!”
If there is a downside to 10 Summers, its the detrimental-to-society themes that the album promotes, such as throwing the word “bitch” around with reckless abandon. This certainly doesn’t do anything to uplift audiences, but you’ll definitely have a ball listening to it when liquor is a part of the equation and your moral compass goes out the window.
There’s a moment of 10 Summers where a skit suggests that every song on the radio is produced by Mustard. We’ve heard this kind of thing on rap albums before, but this may be the first time where its actually accurate. The West Coast is back, once again, and in a big way. The climate is finally right for Detox to drop, perhaps this is just what the Dr. ordered.
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