January 10, 2017

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Over the last 18 months, Drakeo the Ruler has become one of LA’s fastest rising street rappers despite a name better suited to the Hidden Hills OVO work tent where they make Majid Jordan mine salt. It’s blasphemy to compare anyone to Suga Free, but on last year’s I Mr. Mosely 2, Drakeo’s flow occasionally reminds me of DeJuan Rice circa “Down Down Down” — if his voice was chopped and screwed to an opiated drawl, one more conducive to leaning than pimping.

The foreign whip crasher lives up to his alias, switching speeds with V8 propulsion — rapping fast and slowly at the same time without ever having heard a Nice and Smooth cut. He might not boast the animated bug-out and buss down humor of the silkiest one, but there’s enough sly jokes to help leaven the otherwise intense focus on street shit. See “Shenaynay,” where Drakeo uses the Martin character’s name to mean extendo clips, because Shenaynay wore extensions. On his other songs, he uses the “Shenaynay”  so much that you’d think it was an extended tribute to Tommy Ford. RIP.

The South Central rapper first blew up the new-old fashioned LA way: via a Mustard beat that became 2015’s “Mr. Get Dough” featuring RJ and Choice. It continued with last year’s I Am Mr. Mosely 2 tape, which featured Skeme, Mozzy and G. Perico. The latter two appeared on “Fresh Outta Jail,” which might’ve been the hardest song of 2016 overlooked on our Top 50 Rap list. It’s sadly prophetic too, considering Drakeo’s latest Instagram posts allude to him being being back in county.

Whether Gucci, E-40, Snoop. King Louie or Wu-Tang, a unique slang has always separated the ice cold from the lukewarm. For Drakeo, it’s “lingo bingo.” Soft rivals are “Shirley’s,” short for Shirley Temple’s running their mouths. Uchie is money.  Etc. His latest tape, So Cold I Do Em, dropped two weeks ago and finds him going in over industry production. Like the best of these type of tapes, the instrumentals chosen reveal a lot about the artist’s intent, as he bludgeoned beats from Kodak, Migos, Famous Dex, RJ, and Lud Foe.

If most of the other gangsta rappers from LA tend to follow Boogie’s complaint that everyone’s trying to make a song like YG, Drakeo’s influences seem a bit broader. On I Am Mr. Mosely 2, he snapped about having a hi-top fade like Boosie and having two phones like Gates. At times, his voice can resemble a drugged Bayou croak. On “Cocoon,” it becomes a double time snap about robbery and expensive luxury leather shoes. On “Popular,” Mr. Evil Knieval raps about both types of gang banging and Ned Flanders. The tone is consistent but uneasy, somewhere between music for murder missions and codeine funeral receptions.

The videos fill in the rest of the blanks. His latest for the “Impatient” freestyle starts with him posing in front of a Mercedes, holding an AK-47 and sipping on purple in styrofoam cups. It could be from Houston or Atlanta or Baton Rouge, but it’s pure LA down to the the sinister post-Mustard piano menace and Sativa stunned drawl. It’s palm tree noir meets GTA San Andreas except real as Randy’s Donuts. Or Tito’s Tacos, Tommy Burger, and the Bangin’ on Wax compilation. Not to mention that on general principle, I’ll ride for any 90s baby who rhymes “felony” with Bill Bellamy– and so should you.