Synonymous through his voice, imprint, and relevance in Hip-Hop’s growth through varying cultural hurdles, DJ Drama will always stand tall amongst the varying legends in the genre, even when his albums aren’t as potent as the albums he hosts. For the east, whether it was DJ Clue or the late great DJ Kay Slay, these tapes have always been prevalent in breaking apart and delivering personifications of themselves musically, as they don’t host or co-produce to fit someone else’s style. Kay Slay showcased lyricism at its finest, Clue brought more club heaters, and Drama is that happy medium where you’ll know what you get based on the artists featured on each track. It’s a benefit for those with this love for Hip-Hop who will comprehend what they may or may not like ahead of time – it’s been that way through Drama’s Quality Control series, amongst others, and it continues with the slightly humbling I’m Really Like That. For all the positives come some stumbling negatives, specifically as Drama’s purview on choruses comes off a bit one note, and some rappers don’t bring that A+ flavor keeping the consistency rocky.
I’m Really Like That isn’t anything special like the many curated albums by DJs who work as the lead artist, but for those who have a fondness for hearing rappers work with each other where they wouldn’t otherwise on a solo project, it’s enough to push the intrigue level higher. You won’t feel your time fully wasted due to it since what gets heard are some amazing rap verses, above-average hip-hop production, and some repetitive melodic choruses that never have a lot of character. DJ Drama’s spoken word between verses and in the intro of certain tracks have more character than the choruses, which are there to showcase the singer’s strengths. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do that, even when you’re getting an angelic performance by Vory, but they tiptoe a balancing beam where their effectiveness can bridge verses. Still, they aren’t at the forefront as constantly – happening somewhat twice, with the second being “FMFU” but none of them are captivating, especially “HO4ME,” which delivers typicality from A Boogie With A Hoodie and Lil Baby. It’s more underwhelming as it comes after the excellent “Legendary” with Tyler, the Creator.
Fortunately, I’m Really Like That takes a more powerful pivot at track 5, where DJ Drama gives us one phenomenally high energy and frenetic moment with “Free Game,” which sees 42 Dugg & Lil Uzi Vert coming with pure ferocity. Matching that potency is many rappers: Benny the Butcher, Symba, Wiz Khalifa, Jim Jones, G Herbo, and Jeezy, to name a few, and it’s their potency that helps round out the tracks they get featured on since the choruses are repetitively simple. Some outshine others, like Symba and Wiz Khalifa on “No Weakness,” the latter snapping on the beat and making one wish they cut out the lackluster T.I. verse. It’s the only instance of this, but as these rappers come and deliver, what could be forgettable ends up less so, leaving you with some tracks to keep in rotation. It’s especially true for the songs “Andale,” “Been A While,” “I Ain’t Gonna Hold Ya,” “Free Game,” and “Raised Different.” Especially the latter that delivers two A+ verses from Jeezy and the late extraordinary Nipsey Hustle.
Like the quality from song to song, Drama shifts between delivering humbling motivational speeches and flexing his ego. It makes sense to hear him expand his ego because Drama’s history within the Underground scene, alongside Don Cannon, has been pivotal in elevating the pedigree of artists. He’s earned it as he’s opened the doors for many, but at the same time, not everyone becomes the next phenom, and one of his recent discoveries, Jack Harlow, went on to be that. He was right about Harlow’s gift and appeal for growth. Unfortunately, Harlow can’t boost that ego-flex as his verse isn’t that interesting, taking off-kilter directions with the metaphors and allusions on “Mockingbird Valley.” For example, when he rapped, “Spent my first advance in Lenox (Gangsta), haven’t been back in a minute/Love me ’cause I’m so authentic, Mitch McConnell still in Senate/Ocean risin’ by the minute, just like us, we came to win it.” For what it is, the bars are corny and offer little as he alludes to his authenticity by making parallels to a backward politician and talking about his consistent rises like global warming and the rising water levels in the oceans. It left me feeling numb and uninterested in returning to any of Harlow’s music for the immediate future.
Jack Harlow isn’t the only outlier with the verses of Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne on “FMFU,” which are below average, and “350” is more atypical for a slightly pushed add-on for a track that’s three years old. “HO4ME” neglects to bring a verse from Lil Baby, relegating him to this bland chorus to match the drab bars from A Boogie. It’s similarly the case with two of the last three tracks, “Iron Right” and “We Made It.” It further makes the insipid need to boast too many character dimensions, as the album reflects varying styles, from the more sing-songy melodic rap vibes to the more apropos New York tones on “Forever.” It becomes this one big roller coaster ride that’s reflective equally through varying channels, like Drama’s vocals and content. It’s an album where you can lower your standards and still be beyond satisfied with the quality of work you get, and you get left with a reminder that DJ Drama still has it.