February 17, 2017

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Will Hagle is taking over “Mock Trial” With Judge Reinhold.

Imagine being called for jury duty. The judge reads the description of the case: Young Dolph v. Yo Gotti. Dolph, the plaintiff, is suing Gotti on charges of being a “fraud ass bitch.” The judge asks if you’ll be able to be impartial in the trial. You consider your answer carefully. King of Memphis was the best album of 2016, but Yo Gotti gave the world “Down in the DM.” You’ll try not to be biased.

This exact scenario happened to me last week, except the case wasn’t Young Dolph v. Yo Gotti. It was Brazilian actress v. Plastic Surgeon, the former suing the latter for damages resulting from a botched Botox procedure. I took an oath not to #blog about the case, so I’ll spare the details. Just know that the only good thing about getting called into jury duty on February 2nd, 2017 is that Young Dolph’s Gelato dropped on the same day. There’s a lot of down time for potential jurors in the court house. Waiting around is a lot better when IT’S DOOOOOLPH! is being yelled into your ear over new Zaytoven beats.

But back to Young Dolph v. Yo Gotti, a case we can all #blog about because it’s being tried in the court of public opinion. The trial begins. On the plaintiff side, Young Dolph has waived his right to a lawyer. He’s representing himself. A slick executive in a suit is representing the defendant, who hasn’t shown up to court yet.

Dolph offers his evidence, in the form of a song called “Play Wit Yo Bitch.” He argues: “I shot my first 20 videos in my hood / you a bitch, I heard they never see you in your hood.” The judge then allows Dolph to play 20 of his music videos, which are all as incredible as they are low-budget. Dolph calls the defendant, who is still nowhere to be found, “Ho Gotti.” Gotti’s lawyer objects. The objection is overruled. The case is over after 5 minutes and 10 seconds. All 12 jurors unanimously side with Dolph.

“Play Wit Yo Bitch” is the last song on Gelato, yet another free mixtape released via Dolph’s own Paper Route Empire. It’s a scathing dismantling of Gotti’s character, and it was a long time brewing. Gotti remains the most popular modern rapper from Memphis, which is an extremely sad statement about a historically great rap city. Dolph has been gaining traction nation-wide in recent years, but he had mostly refrained from addressing the tension between him and his fellow Tennessean. On “Play Wit Yo Bitch,” he lets it all out.

There’s always been something hilarious and endearing about people expressing hatred for each other via an artistic medium. Real violence has occurred in the real world in response to diss tracks, but musical beef crossing over into the physical world is the equivalent of an armed man walking into a pizza parlor to investigate a pedophile ring he read about online. Music is mostly fiction, even when it’s rooted in reality. There’s nothing particularly threatening about Dolph sing-rapping “Found my number in her phone and it hurt your pride” two times in a row. But there is something amazing about it. From Neil Young v. Lynyryd Skynrd to Drake v. Meek Mill and all the better beefs in between, music has always been used as a combative force. But it’s mostly meant to entertain. Like a musical version of Roast Battle, or whatever. Beef is not what Jay said to Nas. It’s not whatever Mos Def said it was, either. It’s what’s for dinner. We eat it up.

“Play Wit Yo Bitch” will be the most talked-about song on Gelato, but there are ten other songs on the tape. Dolph brings Migos on board for “Drop It Off” at the right time, basically joining the trio to create a solid Migos B-side at a peak moment in that group’s popularity. Or Dolph collaborated with them at the wrong time, depending on where you sided in the case of Migos v. Makonnen. Dolph calling Yo Gotti’s team “Cocaine Music Faggots” and complaining about Gotti “beefing with a dyke” won’t sit well with those who want to bash in Milo Yiannopoulos’s skull, or even anyone with the common decency to remove homophobia from hip-hop in 2017. But enough about that song. There are ten other songs on the tape. “Yeezy” is not the best one.

None of the other songs on Gelato are catchy or poppy or cheesy enough to put Dolph over Gotti’s edge popularity-wise, but all of them are decently good. That’s high praise for a Dolph tape, which can tend to be bogged down with boring throwaway tracks, even if Dolph insists on making a music video for every single one.

Dolph has become smarter about his roll outs for recent mixtapes, trimming down the track lists into more palatable forms and packing in more prominent guest features. I never thought I’d be saying the best new Dolph song has a Wiz Khalifa verse on it, but it’s called “On The River,” and it does. I never thought there’d be a song with a better Lil’ Yachty verse than his one on “Broccoli,” but it’s called “Bagg,” and it is.

The other day, I went for a run while listening to Gelato. I found myself walking at one point, feeling like a fraud ass bitch, with Dolph in my ear telling me to quit crying and quit complaining and run it up. “Run It Up” may just be another generic Dolph song about making money, but at that specific moment, it was inspiration. That’s the main reason,We need to listen to more Young Dolph. We all need someone who’s not currently the president to tell us that hard work and hustle can make you king. Dolph’s a self-made millionaire, so he doesn’t need to keep making so many free mixtapes. But he does, and they’re only getting better.