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Mixtape Review: Hustle Gang, G.D.O.D.

While T.I.’s certainly no novice to the world of rapper-run-labels, first co-founding Grand Hustle Records in 2003, last week’s G.D.O.D. marked the first group project from T.I.’s Hustle Gang (the moniker chosen to represent the collective of Grand hustle signees). Boasting a well-proportioned mix of “day-ones” like Young Dro, Big Kuntry and Macboney, commercial commodities like B.O.B (proven), Travi$ Scott and Iggy Azalea (TBD), and the revered but overlooked Texan Trae Tha Truth, Hustle Gang is full of both proven talent and untapped promise, and on the whole, the collective feels much like an extension of the group’s ringleader himself.

“Only N Atlanta” is a memorably smooth and triumphant hometown anthem produced by Cardo that pits Young Jeezy alongside T.I. and ATL upstart Shad Da God, who holds his own alongside two of his city’s most popular MCs with a raw and “excited-to-be-here” verse that stands out as arguably the best, if not the most emphatic, on the record. “Away From Me” is another standout which sees T.I. share the stage with Trae The Truth and Spodee, the latter of whom puts the finishing touches on an already strong Nard & B production with a hook that perfectly brings to light a major theme in T.I.’s personal life (and one in the currently incarcerated Soidee’s as well). It strikes a perfect balance between sincere emotionality and thuggish bravado.

“Let Me Find Out,” originally a solo record by Montgomery’s Doe B that’s seen regional success since it’s release last year, might take the cake as the mixtape’s biggest record, appearing on G.D.O.D. as a supercharged remix now featuring T.I. and Juicy J. The added firepower gives Doe’s record all the potential to be the trunk-rattling anthem of the summer. Similarly, songs like “Kemosabe,” and “Poppin’ For Some” offer glimpses of genius from a sorely missed Young Dro that are sure to satisfy anyone who longs for his days on “Rubberband Banks” and “Shoulder Lean”

In addition to the impressive appearances from some of Hustle Gang’s lesser known members, G.D.O.D. is equally encouraging for fans of early T.I. Having a VH1 reality series, going to jail a few times and natural human maturation might lead fans to believe the days of I’m Serious and Trap Muzik T.I. were “dead and gone” (get it?), but as proven throughout this project, that simply isn’t the case. Being surrounded by young talent may have something to do with it, but regardless of the reason, T.I. reminds of that brash, hard-headed, but slick and all-knowledgeable trap-kingpin that first won fans over a decade ago.

The production here isn’t anything groundbreaking, but they’re distinct and cohesive enough to work well with the array of artists who rhyme on each. The sheer volume of verses squeezed into this mixtape keeps G.D.O.D. from ever really getting boring and it’s exciting to see everyone seize their spots. Altogether it’s a project that not only bodes well for Tip as an artist, but as a cultivator of talent as well.@wavydavewilliam

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