Trap season doesn’t come with ringing bells, but the clinking of pyrex against a stove top is a familiar sound. Currency, banded either by paper or rubber, stacked high on the stained linoleum. “Told mama we ain’t never ever goin’ back broke / cuz I ain’t gon’ never ever stop sellin’ dope” proclaims Young Dolph on “Never Ever,” the third song on High Class Street Music 5 (The Plug Best Friend). This line embodies the essence of Dolph’s new mixtape, and the lofty ambitions it carries are fulfilled by the music.
“Forever,” produced by Drumma Boy, is a good example of the trap style that Dolph has embodied and made his own. Heavily influenced by Atlanta while still showing his Tennessee roots, the progression from 2012’s A Time To Kill to last year’s Cross-Country Trappin’ and High Class Street Music 4 (American Gangster) is that of a shadowy sideman from the Brick Squad crew becoming a distinctive, confident voice with his own attitude.
That said, Dolph’s ascent has been largely on the backs of others. He manages to shine in unexpected places, like on “Texas Margarita” from Brick Factory Vol. 1 and the underrated Felix Brothers. His debt to Gucci Mane is as much a kinship as any label-based hip-hop relationship can be; “free my nigga Gucci” shouts Dolph on “Big Deal.” There aren’t any archival Gucci verses used here, but the tracklisting is not short of excitement. The lulls are brief on this mixtape, with the songs concise and the skits short for maximum brevity.
2 Chainz delivers two guest verses for the songs “Pulled Up” and “Go Get The Money,” material reminiscent of The Real University but lacking real staying power. Replays will also likely go to this mixtape’s remix of “Preach.” Rick Ross’s opening verse is sardonic and irreverent, while Young Jeezy delivers a linear monologue that shows Snow’s still cold. “3 Way” serves as the perfect opening song because it sets the stage thematically for what’s to come, and is also a catchy jam.
High Class Street Music 5 is an effective mixtape because it cuts out filler and opts for effective beats and delivery. Unlike PeeWee Longway’s Blue M&M 2, this mixtape employs trap aesthetics but doesn’t skimp on real rapping. This has more hip-hop in it, from the song structures to the way Dolph rhymes. It’s a trap tape, but it’s still quintessentially rap-based hip-hop, and that makes it a definitive success to me.