The proposition of a DJ-helmed album is a somewhat curious one. What, exactly, does it mean? There’s no one rapper or producer at the heart of the entire project, like a typical album. Instead, it usually ends up being a gathering of said DJ’s friends—a flexing of his Rolodex, of sorts—and as such, the results are often big records and otherwise unexpected collaborations. With Gangsta Grillz: The Album and Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Vol. 2) already under his retail release belt, DJ Drama strikes again with Third Power.
Known for giving his coveted cosign to artists with his Gangsta Grillz mixtape series, Mr. Thanksgiving makes the crossover on this album and mixes in records for the street, ladies, and club. It’s a bit of a letdown that on the 12-track offering, three of the strongest cuts were released some time ago: the Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa and Roscoe Dash lead single “Oh My” was officially released back in May; “Rough,” with Young Jeezy and Freddie Gibbs, was included on Jizzle’s The Real Is Back 2 in September; and Ya Boy and Akon’s “Lock Down” first dropped back in April. Nonetheless, these cuts, along with Trey Songz, 2 Chainz and Big Sean’s “Oh My (Remix)” help the album thump throughout. “Take My City” is the project’s gem, bolstered by a characteristically vicious verbal onslaught in the name of Long Beach from Crooked I and a sprawling hook from B.o.B.
Gucci Mane (“Me & My Money”) and Future (“Ain’t No Way Around It”) get solo shine, and the meditative Pusha T and French Montana joint “Everything That Glitters” is a change of pace for the streets. “Undercover,” with J. Cole and Chris Brown, and the Wale and Talia Coles collab “Never See You Again” are both solid female-focused records, but hearing Cole and Mr. Folarin on a harder, straight spitting track would have been exciting.
There are few, if any, hiccups here, but a similarly scarce amount of pure knockouts, and the album lacks a certain cohesion. Still, with Third Power, DJ Drama proves he has the power to curate plenty of bangers. —Adam Fleischer