Always the outsider in the modern sense of hip-hop, Your Old Droog was one of the first rhymers that combined the raw lyrical skill with verses that sampled Frank Zappa or had allusions to Lou Reed. It felt as if every time Your Old Droog was on the wax or coming through the loudspeaker, there were these reminiscent throwbacks to hearing the mysterious artist like the late MF DOOM or Droog’s partner in the rap-game heist, Mach-Hommy.
With this lean into the Eastern European background and influence, Your Old Droog assembles 12 tracks over 39-minutes as something to be enjoyed with a pastry and coffee in the morning. Especially when he peels back the Ukrainian curtain with these flutes and Russian narration before his vocals overpower and become the centerfold of the attention.
Your Old Droog and Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition is a prime example, there have always been these instrumentals that feature little to no percussive production but immediately capture the attention. With It Wasn’t Even Close, “Babushka” was one of the strongest pieces off of that record for the way that it was something for the grandmother to love. Straight poetry and lyrics over a sample that had the vinyl fuzz etched into the needle.
Now with Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition, Your Old Droog has “Matryoshka” which almost sounds as if it samples the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Personally, when Your Old Droog is accepting of this sound and able to capture a unique essence without becoming corny, it is dominating for the memory.
When Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition ends, these moments like “Matryoshka” or ”Babushka III” are tightly glued to the head like a Carhartt skullcap. And in the same fashion, Your Old Droog is still comedic and charismatic. On “Pravda,” which features Mach-Hommy, El-P, Tha God Fahim, and Black Thought, those four lyricists are enough to make the internet shatter in a tornado tag-team match in rap heaven.
When focusing in on an artist as versatile and deeply layered as Your Old Droog, it takes multiple listens through a track just to fully hear his delivery. Understanding what he is spewing takes weeks to months as even on Transportation, a record that I spun once a day for three months straight after its initial release. I still found rhymes to click and become realized later.
If you are going to jump into listening to Droog, this is the perfect time to start. Now especially in a time where lyricism and obscure production seems to be more accessible than ever because of the internet, there are no excuses.