Your Old Droog Is In The Express Lane. He Drops His 2nd Album In 2 Months. Listen In.
For those that were wondering why Your Old Droog’s most recent video consisted of two songs that weren’t on the project he had just released (April’s It Wasn’t Even Close), the answer has finally arrived: he was preparing a surprise, second LP Transportation. This new concept LP does feature “Under The Train (Transporting)” and “The Cheese.” This new offering is an ode to planes, trains, and automobiles, and at the same time, a love letter to life in New York City.
Mono En Stereo (formerly known as RTNC), who has been with him since his self-titled debut EP in 2014, produces eight songs (and three interludes) on Transportation. Elsewhere, Y.O.D. also kicks his witticisms over soundscapes by Oh No, The Purist, Skywlkr, and Quelle Chris. Overall, the album is a cohesive blend of dusty loops with some deliberate cues to other 1980s and ’90s Rap records. Together, the cast of creators feel like they all sourced sounds from the same sacred crate of records, with Droog in the captain’s chair the whole time.
The Brooklyn MC covers basically every type of conventional transportation including school bus (“The Cheese”), cab (“Taxi”), train (“Train Love” and “Under The Train”), private jet (“My Plane”), boat (“SS YOD”), and even rocket (“Rocket Launch Interlude”). He does it all in clever, sometimes subtle ways. For example, on “Monthly” he talks about making visits to a particular female acquaintance only so that he could use her monthly MTA Metrocard. On the imaginative “Taxi,” he proclaims that “if he didn’t MC, then he’d probably drive a taxi.” Perhaps the highest point of the LP is “Train Love,” where he spits a romantic rap about love at first sight on the iron horse. In part, the song honors Three Times Dope’s “Funky Dividends,” who Y.O.D. shouts out in his verse while also mentioning Philly’s public transit system. Along the way, he flips the letters and the numbers of various train lines with slick double-entendres.
From inspiration to execution, Droog is an elite student of many corners of Hip-Hop. “Head Over Wheels II (An Ode To G. Dep)” honors a talented (and tragic) Rap figure that made noise in Droog’s lifetime. The song follows maneuvers through Uptown streets at a time when HOT 97 may have been “where Hip-Hop lives,” but G. Dep’s supremely slept-on Child Of The Ghetto was the preferred soundtrack in a fly whip. Gangrene’s Oh No serves a doctored-up slice of Jazz that feels straight off of a 1997 Buckwild or E-Z Elpee beat tape. The Quelle Chris collaboration, “Taxis” features a submerged salute to KMD and one of their most forward-sounding statements. Just as he did with EST, David Lee Roth, and Godfather Don, Y.O.D. cites his sources of inspiration in the verse, including the late Subroc.
From DOOM to Edan, Wiki to Rast RFC, Droog best fits in with folks that defy what people think their eras should sound like. Transportation is nostalgic without feeling too stylized for modern appreciation. Lyrically, this is an album that does not get too weighted down in its concept for the listener to just lean back. Droog’s quick witted similes, compound rhymes, and knack for resonant images guide the listen. Crystalizing couplets like “Stillwell Baby’s” “Rhyming producer / Who’d rather mute ya than shoot ya / Over some minutia / Y’all killas now? Spare me / Of these Rap cats you gotta be weary,” before a quip that likens “skeletons in the closet” to Jim Jones’ 2006 wardrobe. Moments later, he charges, “Never cried about a lack of press / I’d rather be a dope failure than a wack success.” These lyrics present a song much greater than the Coney Island avenue (and train stop) its named after. As any song winds down, it can be easy to get lost in the rhymes and beats, only to realize you missed the theme—not unlike a stop on the bus or train.
Many Rap artists in 2019 are flooding the market with albums, sometimes at a weekly clip. Y.O.D. has certainly proved himself prolific lately. However, not unlike the masked villain’s busy run in the early 2000s, he also shows that quality and consistency never have to waver. The MC refuses to compromise in any way. In what feels like a new level in his celebrated career, Your Old Droog jumps the turnstile, hops on the train, and gets himself to exactly where he’s trying to get to.
Music from Your Old Droog is currently on the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist.
Press photograph provided by Mongoloid Banks. Additional Reporting by Jake Paine.