As the man behind the ratchet sound that's been taking over the West Coast since last year, DJ Mustard is quickly becoming one of the more sought after producers in hip hop. His latest mixtape Ketchup is a good example as to why.
On Ketchup, the man behind hits like Tyga's "Rack City" and YG's "Toot It and Boot It" worked with some of Cali's most familiar faces, including Skeme, Nipsey Hussle, TC4800, Casey Veggies, Ty$ and the aforementioned YG, and the tape plays like a rite of passage of sorts with some of hip hop's elite like Timbaland (who narrates the intro), Lil Jon, DJ Drama and Funkmaster Flex co-signing the ratchet-rap pioneer's stardom.
What stood out the most throughout the mixtape, however, was Mustard's undeniable chemistry with Ty$ (a.k.a. Ty Dolla $ign) on songs like "Put This Thang On Ya" and "F---k That N---a." Ty$, a multi-talented up-and-comer in his own right, manages to tightrope walk the line between singing and rapping in a way that's more organic and less redundant than one might say about Future, for example.
"Take It to the Neck" featuring L.A. underground star Clyde Carson and YG is one of the standout beats. But perhaps the most notable overall song is "Straight Ryder," on which Mustard took the 2Pac classic "Ambitionz az a Ridah" and gave it a fourth sonic dimension, providing the perfect foundation for Candice to bless the track with her angelic, yet edgy voice.
Dom Kennedy adds his lyrical touch to "Nothin' Like Me" and Dorrough and Bounce both compliment what might be the absolute best beat, "Stupid Dumb," which sounds like a re-worked version of 2 Chainz' "I'm Different."
Ketchup falls short, however, on originality. Many of the beats sound merely like less dynamic versions of the star producer's earlier hits. "4G's," for example, which features OG E-40, sounds less like ratchet and more like hyphy on Nyquil. But it's not all on the beats. On "LadyKilla," for example, Cocc Pistol Cree fails to deliver the mixtape's first female knockout punch.
Still, at his best, DJ Mustard has proven to be a force of nature in hip hop. His low rider-friendly bass and strategically simple drums make for a one of a kind sound that plays well in the club. But in a year that has already seen some classic mixtapes, Ketchup just needs a little bit more hot sauce.
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(Photo: Pushaz Ink)