When artists release new material every few weeks it's inevitable that some content just won't be as good as the rest, verses will get repetitive and beats will become very similar to their previously released music, Smoke DZA is an artist that's been teetering back and forth between that thin line of quantity over quality and truthfully I went into this album a little skeptical if it'll even be on par with his 2011 album, Rolling Stoned. Oh boy was I pleasantly surprised by DZA's latest effort Rugby Thompson.
DZA took a risk and recruited New York beatsmith Harry Fraud to produce the entire album, a big decision which can either be a hit or miss due to the fact that you only get one mind working on the beats you rap over. On one hand you could have a producer and rapper combo that have great chemistry and on the other you have a bunch of formulaic and mundane beats. Thankfully, Harry Fraud is a monster. I did not hear a similar beat once while listening; not only that but he isn't afraid to change up his production style. On the Curren$y featured track "Baleedat" Fraud employs a high-pitched vocal sample which is reminiscent of Just Blaze's style circa the early 2000s then switches things up to produce chopped and screwed inspired songs like "Rivermonts". The versatile beatsmith even had the balls to take a classic hip-hop sample DJ Premier used in "Who's Gonna Take The Weight" and flipped it in an interesting way on "Kenny Powers".
Now, Harry Fraud definitely delivers from a production standpoint, however the pressing question is does DZA do Fraud's production justice? In short, yes. DZA has stepped up his lyrical game in my opinion and seems to have strayed a little away from his signature weed raps, for that I applaud him. On Rugby Thompson we find DZA telling more stories and utilizing a Mafioso style lyrical delivery similar to Jay-Z in his prime back in the 90s like on "Rugby Thompson" and "New Jack" which deserves extra plays because of the ferocious second verse DZA spits. As far as features go there aren't a ton, with only nine spread out over six out of the album's twelve songs, all of which vary from good to great especially the Domo Genesis & Schoolboy Q-assisted track"Ashtray"
If anything Rugby Thompson is proof that Smoke DZA is someone who should not be taken lightly and that the Kush God is a lot more versatile than his previous work leads people to believe.