DJ Drama doesn’t stop. It’s been just under a year since he dropped his last album, Third Power, and now the Philadelphia native is back with his fourth official effort, Quality Street Music. Over that same span, he’s hosted countless mixtapes next to the game’s biggest heavyweights—from 50 Cent to Meek Mill to Lil Wayne. Though his shit-talking skills on his mixtapes are the stuff legends are made of, its the opportunity he affords himself on album—stepping into the role of an A&R, playing matchmaker with his considerable industry friends—that opens a new window into his broader capabilities.
Getting just about every star rap music on your album, which Dram does here, is an accomplishment within itself; but what makes the project hold weight are the general fluidity with which the beats and artists mesh. Maybe the two most glaring examples of this are on the album’s first two singles, which have each been out for some time now: “We In This Bitch” brings three of the most revered from Atlanta onto one record, with T.I., Young Jeezy and Ludacris delivering stellar verses, punctuated with a hook by A-Town’s newest star, Future; meanwhile, “My Moment” unifies two of the streets’ hottest, with 2 Chainz and Meek Mill, along with a hook from Jeremih who, too, is experiencing his moment. Later, he brings together street scholars young and old with Kendrick Lamar and Common on “My Way” and joins Jadakiss, Young Jeezy, Nipsey Hussle and Cee Lo for the eery opus “Never Die.”
WIth the natural fits, though, come some predictable scenarios. Meek Mill, Birdman and Gucci Mane on “My Audemars” is probably more suited for a Gangsta Grillz mixtape, while “Real Niggas in the Building,” is exactly what a Travis Porter/Kirko Bangz song produced by DJ Mustard would sound like. In this case, though, what would be is often what should be—as fixating artists in their comfort zone for a verse enhanses the experience. The expected though not rejected formulaic creations continue with the unfiltered aggression on “I’m a Hata” with Waka Flocka and Tyler, The Creator and Debo.
Though an untrained listener may check out this album and be unable to realize that DJ Drama’s name is on the spine, his vision is evident throughout. By using his seasoned ear and stuffed phonebook, Dram has fed his base with what is indeed Quality Street Music. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)