When an assailant opened fire on Young Dolph’s SUV before a CIAA Weekend performance at the Cameo strip club back in February, the greatest PR moment in the rapper’s career was solidified. One hundred shots rained down on Dolph’s vehicle, but thanks to its bespoke bullet-proofing, none of the car’s occupants were injured. The incident immediately trumped Dolph’s feud with Yo Gotti as clickbait for hip-hop websites, providing his career a level of exposure not seen since featuring on OT Genasis’s platinum-selling single “Cut It.” The iron was hot, and Dolph readied himself to strike.
Bulletproof is Young Dolph’s second official album, released through his Paper Route Empire label. Over the course of ten tracks, Dolph reflects on the shooting, his will to live, and his triumph over haters. The first three tracks are titled “100 Shots,” “In Charlotte,” and “But I’m Bulletproof;” the theme of this album can easily be surmised. I’m reminded of Boosie’s first couple of post-prison releases where all his lyrics dealt with incarceration. It’s tiring hearing about the same situation over and over again, but shows how much these events impacted the people who lived through them. This is Dolph’s chance to share his thoughts and feelings on his own terms.
For those reasons, it’s surprising that Young Dolph is so eager to copy the styles of other rappers. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is “In Charlotte,” a Metro Boomin-production over which Dolph does his best Future imitation. Within seconds of the “if young Metro don’t trust you…” tag, Dolph is rapping “million dollars cash, all 20s, in the closet,” not only sounding like the Atlanta rapper but even copping the same flow as “Where Ya At.” “I’m So Real” steals the delivery perfected by Dolph’s former mentor Gucci Mane, something of a disservice given that Gucci provides the album’s sole feature on “That’s How I Feel.”
Clearly, this album was put together in a short amount of time. Reading the song titles, little is left to the imagination: “I’m Everything You Wanna Be,” “I Pray For My Enemies,” “So Fuk ‘Em.” Dolph saw the opportunity for exposure and came through on a concept which hardly warrants a full album; the result is rushed, easily discarded. This is particularly disappointing given that the past couple years have seen Dolph grow as a lyricist, moving away from his lyrical crutch of formulaic “my mom gave me advice, but I didn’t listen” and “as a youngin’ started banging and slanging” rhymes. It’s embarrassing returning to his early High Class Street Music releases or the letdown of Cross Country Trappin’ for these reasons. And while more recent projects like 16 Zips and Rich Crack Baby have shown increased complexity and ingenuity, I haven’t truly enjoyed a Young Dolph song since “Forever” off HCSM5: The Plug Best Friend.
TI has spoken out in favor of this album, and Dolph is hoping that he’ll be able to sign a major record deal off the back of it. In the post-“Down in the DM” world we live in, there have been stranger rises to fame, though the impediments to Dolph’s success remain his dull voice, repetitive lyrics, and boring personality. While I have enjoyed projects from Young Dolph in the past, Bulletproof didn’t do it for me. Back to waiting around for the next Peewee Longway to drop.