DJ Mustard - 10 Summers

10 Summers maintains a less-is-more philosophy with a sound that is more vibrant and refined.

Additional Info

6.9

ALBUM: 10 Summers

ARTIST: DJ Mustard

2014

Hip-Hop/Rap

There's a meme floating around the internet featuring a piano with only three keys, poking fun at DJ Mustard's production style. It's not an unfair assessment: If you've heard one DJ Mustard beat, you've heard them all. But it really doesn't matter, as the one beat that he's made is unequivocally brilliant. His ability to accumulate ingredients from surefire winning styles like mob music, ratchet music, trap, and classic G-Funk and boil them down to their base elements is an impressive talent that belies how strikingly simple it is. Touting the fullest, chunkiest basslines and the most straight-forward club-ready drums of anyone at the moment, the product overall is notably more complex than beats on his last effort Ketchup. A similar less-is-more philosophy remains but the sound is more vibrant and refined, fine-tuned to a point where nearly anyone can float over it with the very real potential for sparking a radio hit.

It's almost too easy to talk about how DJ Mustard's uniformity, and there's no reason for someone who's stumbled upon the magic formula to fuck up the money by moving away from a signature sound. He will ride the wave of where radio rap is at because it's remunerative, at least at the moment where he has all but defined the blueprint. Lex Luger held a similar place in 2010, with a one-note vibe that everyone else desperately mimicked in order to stay relevant, and his influence remains even as he got outmoded by newer sounds. DJ Mustard will be in a similar place when someone takes his crown by progressing his methods in new directions. Skits on 10 Summers even allude to the fact that people are likely tiring of him because he's on the radio all the time, but then again, he's on the radio all the time. It's a solid and silent brag, laughing at the criticisms and letting the hits speak for themselves.

Your level of interest in this record is entirely dependent on whether you're sick of the sound or not. There's not much new here, though the particular congregation of rappers makes for a compelling listen and a mixture of approaches to the Mustard sound. But as always, it's a very solid collection of songs, never quite reaching the heights of YG's My Krazy Life or any of what's currently on your radio dial but certainly occupying the same territory. There's more going on than you might realize, with a wholly unique crispness and minimalist profundity that may only catch a fellow producer's ear. If we can respect the Ramones for writing the quintessential punk song and repeating it ad nauseam, DJ Mustard deserves a similar place of respect for crafting what is possibly the ultimate club track. Everybody sounds good on a Mustard beat. There are no clunkers here, but there's also nothing transcendent, and if you're looking for a record that pushes beyond simply doing its job, this isn't it. But pop music at it's very nature doesn't demand that songs be progressive, and frankly, we're better off with someone as meticulously minimalist as Mustard flooding the airwaves.

"I got everything a nigga ever wanted 'fore I died."

1. Low Low
With a lo-lo hopping introduction reminiscent of the opening to Dr. Dre's West Coast masterpiece Chronic 2001, Mustard tries to put himself in the context of the California greats, and the comparison is apt. His consistency is in line with the period where Dre perfected his chart-topping formula, and the smattering of guest rappers gives a similar feel to 2001's occasionally erratic verse structure. This flows almost too easily into "Ghetto Tales", setting up an album listen that seems hesitant to distinguish between tracks.7.0
2. Ghetto Tales
The beat is one of the most barebones of an already stark record, structured around the trademark bass bump and clap rolls, with a number of points where hi-hats are the only backing portion. The lyrics reference Eazy-E specifically, and the beat itself seems to make an attempt to find where ratchet fits into the drum machine funk of '88 West Coast. Though the beat is one of the strongest thanks largely to it's simplicity, rappers Jay 305 and TeeCee can't quite hold their own and the spare space works against their uninspired lines.6.5
3. Throw Your Hood Up
With a great hook that serves to hit both on local pride and the burdens carried by those the hood life, this is one of the album's most pronounced, yet it's one of it's most laid back, thanks to Dom Kennedy taking the lead as the understated street player.7.5
4. No Reason
YG, Young Jeezy, Nipsey Hussle, and RJ very effectively match Mustard's "party anthem with a hint of potential menace" sound, each reminding you they're just as likely to buy 100 bottles of alcohol on a whim as they are to get violent if necessary. The verses sink so perfectly into the one-finger piano part that it can fail to draw attention to itself.7.0
5. Giuseppe Shoes
The beat feels especially uninspired, but the rappers get a little more focus drawn to them to pull off one-liners than elsewhere. Hearing Jeezy swear his car's roof looks like astrology, or even hearing 2 Chainz simply say the word "Giuseppee", is a simple enough pleasure to put this song at least on par with the others.7.5
6. Face Down
The combination of rappers present here are so pitch-perfect that even a verse from Big Sean can't derail this one. It's very nice to hear a new hook and "hos in different area codes" verse from the newly free Lil Boosie, an above-average fast-rap from Lil Wayne, and YG reigning it all in with a West Coast vibe. This is where the conflation of regional styles and access to top tier collaborators comes together well, and the bass here is the nastiest on the album.8.0
7. Down On Me
Ty Dolla $ign is another artist who knows exactly how to handle a Mustard beat, gravitating towards semi-R&B with some slightly somber backing vocals. Beyond the larger framework of rap moving towards the melodic, his use of sung raps smooth out the somewhat weak lines and casual misogyny to a point where the songs just plain work. He's really the driving force here, providing the harmonic textures that overshadow 2 Chainz turning in a fairly standard run of punchlines.8.0
8. Can't Tell Me Shit
Iamsu! continues in Ty's line-blurring footsteps, though he's better at verses and worse at hooks. "Can't nobody tell me shit about shit cuz nigga I'm the shit" is not the strongest mantra ever written but it kind of embodies Mustard's aesthetic, one that actively dismisses anyone who might question his methods.7.0
9. Tinashe Checks In
A nice contrast from the rest of the record, Tinashe highlights Mustard's skill with straight R&B, though her sultry singing is sandwiched by two skits that make this track feel like a truncated interlude that could've been more.6.5
10. 4 Digits
I can't really get past the triteness of crooning about girls trying to break your phone codes, and there's not much here that pushes through the poor concept. With a fairly pedestrian sung portion from Eric Bellinger and half-verse from Fabolous (whose "I pray the Lord my code to keep" is about as clever or interesting as the output gets), this is the album's low point.5.5
11. Ty Dolla $ign Checks In
Ty returns with a poorly fleshed out skit follow-up over a promising beat that goes nowhere. Ty and Mustard are a great combination and there's a seed of something here but it's over immediately; whether this is good or bad is unclear.6.0
12. Deep
The skit that precedes it presumes this is Mustard's "playa shit" as opposed to his standard "turn up shit", and while it's slower and grabs you less immediately, it's still too similar to really work like it could've. Certain aspects of this beat (the subtle horns, the quiet of the synth washes) could've made it Mustard's equivalent to Lex Luger's "Grooveline Part One" and Wiz (weakly) approaches it as such, but Rick Ross and TeeFlii bring it back to substandard Mustard fare.6.5
Written by Jack Spencer
A freelance music writer from Minneapolis that has been featured in the City Pages, Bitch Magazine, 2DopeBoyz, The AV Club, Consequence of Sound, Thought Catalog, and more.

comments powered by Disqus
Tagged under

News

Watch!

Listen