Not to sound all DJ Khaled-ish, but the keys to success in the rap game are a combination of both quality and consistency. With over a decade of solid bars under his belt, Sacramento/San Diego’s rapper and CEO, Smigg Dirtee, walks the line — and he has the war stories and strong fan base to prove it. His latest project, #Dirtee, is a little bit of everything; but it all adds up to a balanced plate sure to satisfy even the hungriest hip-hop head.
The album kicks off with a flip of the EPMD classic, “Please Listen to My Demo,” where Smigg asserts his lyrical dominance and prepares listeners for the journey ahead; but that’s just the appetizer. It’s the second track, though where things get started. It’s within the first 16 bars where he drops probably the most telling bars of the album: “Intelligent hood life — I’m like Chief Keef and Lupe.” This sentiment stayed in my head for the bulk of the audio experience. He traverses the rawest manifestation of street life on the dope boy anthem “Drug Dealer Paranoia,” flashes his certified mack card on the self-titled “Dirtee,” and lives up a Chief Keef level of trapness on “IDGAF” and “Stupid Loud.” There is also a healthy dose of introspective, down to earth music here, though, like “Special,” where he pays homage to those often left out of ‘thank you’ tracks, like his step-father, and his friend who — after a string of tragedies — turned to drugs. A stand-out for me was “2 Different Worlds,” a modern day Romeo & Juliet-esque story of a love affair with a girl from a more well-off background.
The album closer, “Bout This Life,” is the real gem here, as he confidently drops braggadocious raps, while sharing nuggets about himself: “I’ve been through too much shit to swag rap.” As a listener, that’s what makes Smigg so relatable, because I’ve [also] been through too much shit to listen to swag rap that dominates the airwaves. #Dirtee is, at points, intelligent and ignorant — see? Chief Keef and Lupe. It’s a well-balanced project that gives listeners glimpses into the ups and downs of an artist who’s been doing this since the 90s era. A must-listen, in my humble opinion.