'The connect's confidential and the weed's continental..."
If you're about to throw on the new Smoke DZA joint expecting political allegory about the Bush Years and the War on Drugs... well, you're in for some disappointment. George Kush Da Button is pretty much about weed.
No matter, though. What you do get from the Harlem rapper is a laidback mixtape with a bit of an executive-lounge soundscape... no surprise considering the primary producer is Ski Beatz, the architect behind much of Jay-Z's Big Willie sound on Reasonable Doubt.
Hints of this excellent sound were on display with DZA's April 2010 EP, Substance Abuse 1.5: The Headstash, and to a lesser extent on the original Substance Abuse, which came out in February 2010. Matter of fact, this Smoke DZA cat has been pretty prolific in the past 365 days!
George Kush, though, is his most polished effort to date, despite its mixtape status. Ski, along with Kenny Beats, G14, Big K.R.I.T. and Steve-O (not that Steve-O... at least I don't think so), provide a solid bedrock of lower-midtempo head-nodders, providing ample space for DZA to wax philosophic about smoking, and the things he does before and after smoking.
Big K.R.I.T.'s beats on tracks like "I'm Saying" and "The Secret" up the BPMs a little, and lean more toward the radio-friendly side of things, but it's Ski's loping loops on songs like "We On," "Continental Kush Breakfast" and "Etc Etc" that comprise George Kush's best moments. Additionally, Steve-O slows down the loop for Masta Ace Inc.'s "Turn It Up" to nice effect on the introspective "My Life."
Is it a perfect record? No. The weed theme starts to wear a little thin after a while, but it's more of a constant presence than a unified theme. After all, this is an MC who named his first two releases Substance Abuse, and who notes confidently in "We On": "I don't care about your problems, n****/I just wanna smoke my weed/And we on this year/Give a f*** what other n****s want this year/I just wanna smoke a zone this year/Roll it up/Take a flight and we almost there."
• Smoke DZA at Amazon.com