BLOCK ENT. & THE APHILLIATES’ DJ DRAMA:
With Boyz N Da Hood finding success in ’05 and Yung Joc securing one of the biggest overall sales numbers in ’06, Block Enterprises is 2-0 in the win-loss column. But even with Young Jeezy leaving the fold and questions about Joc’s lyrical legitimacy, label figurehead Block is dead set on keeping the hit streak going. Recently re-upping his deal with Bad Boy South, the Southern general rallies his troops for American Gangsta, DJ Drama’s first Gangsta Grillz mixtape since his arrest in January.
Although Joc comes along for the ride, it’s clear from jump that this tape is designed to revive the Boyz’ relevance and introduce newcomer Gorilla Zoe. Things start off on a high note with the pro-drug anthem “Bite Down,” where the Boyz go for broke over squealing synths and organs. Then, they go from customers to hustlers on the anthemic “Sacking Up.” Guest Yung J even chimes in with, “Tell the fiends don’t push/ There’s enough to go around thanks to President Bush.”
As expected, drugs, murder and robbery are present for most of the project, but the group’s newfound chemistry makes for an entertaining listen. Take the back-and-forth between Big Gee and Zoe on “Trap Niggas (Remix),” where they change the concept from being dope boys to hit men. Not to be left out, Jody Breeze displays his lyrical stamina on the Jim Jonsin–produced “J to the O.” Backed by frantic strings, he spits, “I make an awful lot by poppin’ off at the mouth/But don’t get it twisted, try me, I’m dumpin’ at ya spot.”
Even though guests like Rick Ross (“Flip Flop”) and T.I. (“Freeze Up”) add to the Boyz’ consistency, there are a few weak links. Joc’s lazy punch-in flow bogs down “Bottle Poppin’,” while Zoe dumbs down his lyrics on the snappin’ and trappin’ “Hood Nigga.” Although it’s not the overall knockout punch Block had hoped for, American Gangsta has enough heat to make the dope boys go crazy. —MAURICE G. GARLAND