ALBUM: 10 Summers
ARTIST: DJ Mustard
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."