(Photo: Young Money)
It’s been almost a year since Harlem’s own Jae Millz has dropped a project and the wait has surely made fans wonder about the rapper’s status. Is he still signed to Young Money? Will he ever drop his debut album?
On the sequel to his Dead Presidents mixtape, Millz is fully aware of the disheartening doubts surrounding his career and addresses them off the bat. "Ok, I know I still ain’t drop my album, right?" spits Millz for his first bar of the tape. Proceeding to flash his hood stripes, the former battle rap star vents about label politics and the afflux of fake coke rappers in the game. And while it sounds absurdly cliché, you can’t help but feel he’s keeping it a Benjamin (that's 100%).
DP2 gets off to a shaky start with "Everydays Anthem" suffering from "rhyme-nesia": as in there's not a memorable bar to be heard from an artist who made his name on potent punchlines. The track is one of a few where Millz lacks thought-provoking bars, the prime example of which would be the lackluster showing "Who Don’t," where the MC's banter is boring, predictable and derails the majority of the solid tracks on the first half of the tape.
Standing out among the tape’s better half, however, is "Papa John." The track features New York’s next up, Troy Ave, who helps bring some character and melody to the chorus. With Ave on hook duty, Millz is able to flip some pies out the brick oven and get one of DP2's better customer feedback scores with humorous double entendres like "F--k my money up, and it’s vámonos, infrared dot your crew, now you’re dominoes." The cruise around cut "Riding Slow" is another catchy contribution that cradles on Southern sounds and lets Millz confidently glide over an unrestricting instrumental.
Attempting to tackle more Southern-style records after the tape’s midway point, Millz’ subject matter becomes overly commonplace and negates the potential demonstrated on early tracks like "God Bless the Child" and "Pure Honesty." The latter, a saxophone-laced view from the stoop provides a relaxing change of pace from Millz’s usual attack mode rhyme-slinging. Putting his Harlem aura on display, he diversifies his subject matter from master plans to his mom’s influence to dice games on the block.
At a lengthy 23 tracks, Dead Presidents 2 isn’t as heavy on punchlines as would be expected. Instead it's tied together by impassioned flows that Millz acknowledges on "Vintage Jae" when he rhymes "I came from nothing, you can hear it when I’m rapping / ‘Cause when I talk my s--t, you could hear I talk it with passion." More emotional records like "Let the Top Down" and "Dutch Masters" also show another side of the MC that can prove successful when he hones in. Unfortunately, a handful of formidable flows are derailed by Millz’ lack of hook writing skills and attempts at crooning that would be better left to a legitimate singer. Still, showing that he's retained the capacity to make real music when he keeps off the bandwagon of strip club-catered tunes, the Young Money member should sway more than a few naysayers with his latest project. And if you still think he’s a wack rapper, that’s cool. ‘Cause like he remarks on "Dutch Masters," he’s been called worse.
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