Smoke DZA, T.H.C. (The Hustler’s Catalog)
Having earned a reputation for being home to slick-talking, flashy rappers, Harlem is more Dipset than greenhouse. However, native son Smoke DZA aims to alter visions with his latest prescription, T.H.C. (The Hustler’s Catalog).
Known for his haze-induced lyrics like fellow cohort Curren$y, DZA recognizes this stigma on his letter to the industry, “To Whom It May Concern,” where he pens, “Give ‘em dope lines, they say I only give them smoke rhymes.” Later, he trades bars with Compton prodigy Kendrick Lamar over the soulful backdrop of Surf Club’s Hit Boy on “How Far We Go (Uptown 81),” and sons posers on the menacing “Fuck Is You Talking About,” spitting, “Hijackers, so sad/Call me Father MC, ghost dad.”
The smoke fest continues on “Roll Up, Pour Up,” as George Kush and Houstonian Killa Kyleon wax poetics\ over Taylor Gang producer Cardo’s slow-rolling beat. The aim is for the skies on the Hi-Tek-produced “The Early Days Of George,” before DZA rides shotgun with Big K.R.I.T. on the bouncy “Gotta Get Paid.”
Unfortunately his vision gets a little blurred with the anemic “Loaded,” where Lex Luger’s signature sound does little for DZA’s anemic raps, while “Profit” suffers from simple raps about money and Mary Jane, and the simple beat of “White Papers” does nothing for Devin The Dude’s signature crooning. T.H.C. (The Hustler’s Catalog) is meant to be Smoke DZA’s brochure on higher learning, and though he’s able to score high on some tracks, perhaps his next course will have a more comprehensive lesson plan. —Meka Udoh