As Dipset’s longtime A&R, DukeDaGod has helped corral talent for the Harlem collective. In 2005, he positioned his latest finds alongside cohorts Cam’ron, Juelz Santana and Jim Jones on his first compilation, More Than Music, Vol. 1. The artist showcase apparently worked, as the project moved a respectable 138,000 units. Now, the King of Mixtapes returns with Vol. 2, the second chapter in his hostile takeover of the streets.
As with anything Dipset, braggadocious lyrics and hard-knocking production are the norm, and such is the case on the Swift D–produced title track. J.R. Writer and Hell Rell ride out over a high-powered loop, while Santana turns up the lyrical charm: “I spit crack two halves a ki/That’s a key/You can serve that to fiends/That be me/Santana, I’m ballin’ like an athlete/You niggas stinkin’ it up/Like athlete’s feet.” Following suit, Killa Cam reveals a softer side on the charismatic chick cut “Suga Duga,” produced by Fizzy Womack (a.k.a. Fame of M.O.P.).
Despite the assists from the vet Setters, it’s the young guns who are supposed to keep this movement intact. Newcomers Tom Gist and A Mafia capably detail the woes of the ghetto on the introspective “Show & Tell,” but First Lady Jha Jha gets lost amid producer Murdah Beatz’ classical-infused rhythm for “Sometimes.” Other black eyes are the basic hustler’s “pome” “Street Pharmacist” and the chemistry-lacking performances by Jones, Max B and Mel Matrix on “Anniversary.”
Duke’s squad fares better when it moves as a unified front. Both “It’s Over Pt. 2” and “Dipset City” show the squad in rare form. On the latter, 40 Cal. fires off at the mouth with a bold proclamation: “If hip-hop is dead, then this the reincarnation.” Although Vol. 2 maintains Duke’s standing as a conductor of street-corner anthems, there isn’t much more to the music than mo’ money, mo’ murder, mo’ homicide. —THOMAS A. HARDEN