DJ Drama: Gangsta Grillz: The Album

DJ Drama’s life atop the mixtape food chain isn't all good. In his case, Fulton County SWAT raided AMG studios leaving the I-Pod King and partner Don Cannon charged with racketeering and bootlegging. Fueled by adversity and a refusal to wave the white flag of defeat, he accepted the setback and kept it moving. Barack O'Drama then called in a favor to a few of his Rap colleagues. The result is his major label debut Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Atlantic). The project is more like a mixtape on steroids; with an overflow of posse cuts rather than a balanced offering.

"Feds Taking Pictures” starts the show with an accompanying snarling baseline and tweety bird synthesizers. Rick Ross, Young Buck, and Jim Jones amongst others share paranoid accounts of law enforced surveillance. In the wake of T.I.'s and Drama's arrests, this track serves as a verbal middle finger to the police department’s incognito methods of espionage. Slightly updated from Lil’ Wayne’s classic Dedication 2, “Cannon (Remix)” captures the essence of the project with Weezy, Freeway, Willie Da Kid and T.I. all delivery gritty verses. However the first single “5000 Ones” doesn’t come to close to the strip club anthem it was intended to be, with a sappy beat from Jazzy Pha and an uninspiring Nelly hook.

One of the albums’ crowning jewels comes in the form of "The Art of Storytellin’ Pt.4." Outkast’s nurtured flows are coupled with thudding kick drums, emotive church organs, and horn samples provided by Don Cannon. In response to the fad of "making it rain," Andre 3000 retorts "She said why you in the club you don't make precipitate / You know make it rain when you could make it thunderstorm/I'm like why, the world needs sun / The hood needs funds / There's war going on and half the battle is guns / How dare I throw it on the floor when people are poor / So I write like Edgar Allen to restore.”

As in any mixtape, you get you share of duds that demand that untimely fast forward click. “Keep It Gangsta” falls into that category with Yo Gotti, Webbie and Boosie all talking tough, but their bars are nothing but uneventful. Lil’ Scrappy, Bohagon, Princess and Diamond of Crime Mob also fall flat on “Grillz Gleamin’.” Lil’ Jon jacks vocals from Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier” for the hook, giving the track a gimmicky feel.

With seventeen volumes and twenty plus special editions to his name, Drama clearly knows how to cater to the streets. Gangster Grillz: The Album though doesn’t take his signature series to the next level. Too many interchangeable collaborations (“Throw Ya Sets Up”) leave the listener with only moderate replay value here. Mr. Thanksgiving invites you over to holiday dinner but invited way too many guests. Sometimes you just want to eat in peace.Buy from: