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Smoke DZA – T.H.C (The Hustler’s Catalog) album review

With a name like Smoke DZA, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what kind of music T.H.C has to offer. This is the forth tape that stoner rap artist has put forth but is nothing special in the long run. The most striking aspect of the mixtape is the production. DZA pulls from an array of producers (most notably Big KRIT and Lex Luger) to assemble a menagerie of well – crafted beats to rap over. The instrumentals have a jazzy feel for the most part and are skillfully built upon samples. The result is a sequence of tracks to chill and smoke to.

This where most of the praise ends for T.H.C as no rapper’s mixtape can survive on beats alone. The emcee is the main attraction and frankly, Smoke DZA does not bring much to the table. Predictably, his rhymes are about enjoying his greens and he attempts to construct an overarching theme of the hustler’s life. The problem is that the lines that DZA spits lack inspiration and impact. His delivery, structure and rhymes are basic and do little to help the creative angle the mixtape tries to develop. There are exceptions: “Winning” features DZA’s most substantial and meaningful rhymes and “How Far We Go” is DZA at his lyrical best. “Know Better” breaks down the do’s and do not’s of hustling and serves the theme of the mixtape well.

The mediocre far outweighs the exceptional with T.H.C sporting many examples of poor creative direction and forgettable lyrics. “F*ck You Talkin’ Bout” is a combination of simple rhyming and a harsh tone that does not fit in with laid back feeling of the other songs. “Loaded” features a typical trap beat from Lex Luger and the most forgettable lines from DZA. The story remains the same for most of other songs as the music moves awkwardly through the pieces DZA tries to tie together by the end of the mixtape. This leads to the heart of my issue with T.H.C.  It isn’t the subject matter that cripples the tape so much as DZA himself. Lyrically, he provides nothing new or exceptional to the stoner rap genre much less to hip – hop in general. “How Far We Go” does show DZA at his best but he raps alongside Kendrick Lamar who shows us what a true lyricist can do on a groovy beat. This unfortunately causes us to question why we are listening to T.H.C in the first place and not good kid, m.A.A.d city.

If you are already a fan of Smoke DZA and a lover of stoner music, then T.H.C will be more of what you are used to. I cannot recommend this mixtape to anyone listening to DZA for the first time as he offers no compelling reason for new ears to stay invested.

By Leland Gill

Leland Gill is an aspiring writer and doctor who lives life one day at a time and tries to see the deeper meaning in everything. His love for hip - hop is only matched by his love for comics and exercise.

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