DJ Drama
Gangsta Grillz: The Album Vol. 2
(Aphilliates Music Group/Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

Since being brought up on racketeering charges for making “illegal” mixtapes, DJ Drama’s existence has been, well, dramatic. However, Gangsta Grillz: The Album Vol. 2, his latest LP, tells a different story.

One gets the impression from the record’s recurring party ’n’ bullshit themes that life couldn’t be better for Mr. Thanksgiving and friends. Money (“Love for Money,” “Ridiculous”) and hoes (“Tipper Love,” “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy”) seem to be all Drama and his collaborators know. “Day Dreaming” finds Akon and Snoop in the same stripper-induced euphoria they were in on their 2006 collab “I Wanna Love You,” except this time they bring along T.I. for the ride. “This one’s a beast/But way too wonderful to be compared to an animal,” sings Akon over the Euro-dance synths, while Tha Doggfather and Tip deliver adequate eight-bar verses. The trend continues with “Sweat,” but to the track’s discredit, the V12-produced beat sounds like a strip-club rendition of the theme from Halloween, making it more scary than sexy, and La the Darkman’s boast about “tearing a new hole through her” doesn’t help either. The good life sounds a lot better on the DJ Khalil–produced “Yacht Music,” featuring Nas, Scarface and Willie the Kid. Over a breezy, laid-back bass line and celebratory horn stabs, Nas muses, “Count a hundred G’s in a hundred degrees/But Mumia’s locked up, so none of us are free,” briefly pausing from the flossing for a much needed reality check.

The disc’s most socially relevant track, “We Must Be Heard,” features Ludacris, Willie the Kid and Busta Rhymes rhyming about the current economic woes, making the song one of the album’s brighter spots. It’s gems like that that make Drama’s second effort entertaining, but the rest of Gangsta Grillz 2 just doesn’t add on to the DJ’s stellar mixtape legacy. –TIMMHOTEP AKU