Back To The Classroom: On Skooly’s “Dope Fiend”

The ex-Rich Kid(z) continues his solo streak
By    September 6, 2018

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Dean Van Nguyen got in one little fight and his mom got scared and said he’s moving with his auntie and uncle in Bel Air.

If Skooly harbors any lingering disappointment that his group Rich Kidz never quite walked through the gold-plated door to rap stardom, he’s parked it to one side. The Atlanta clique inked a deal with Columbia back in 2012 that failed to yield the kind of riches that youngsters on a major label no doubt allowed themselves to dream about. But, at still just 24-years-old, a solo Skooly is more ravenous than ever. This year has seen him drop all three volumes of his Don’t You Ever Forget Me series – an EP, a mixtape, and an album. And now there’s a video for Don’t You Ever Forget Me 3’s opening track “Dope Fiend,” a smooth hip-hop-R&B hybrid that highlights Skooly’s tuneful strengths.

More singing than rapping, Schooly pitches up somewhere between Future’s dynamism and T-Pain’s melodacity (new word: strictly for use regarding T-Pain). His voice on “Dope Fiend” is gorgeous and struts through producer Ducko McFli’s velvety horns and bluesy synth licks. Its got a fresh timelessness that reminds me of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.” Rap historians might one day find “Dope Fiend” a difficult piece to date because it eschews fashionable sounds and feels so eternally crisp. Inversely, the VHS-style video opts for a retro aesthetic, which actually comes off more vaporwave than “Video Killed The Radio Star.”

The lyrics are all over the place, as Skooly jumps from bragging about his future platinum status and the ice on his neck to defiantly telling off his ex. But that line-to-line levity with the subject matter adds another angle to the playfulness of “Dope Fiend.” It’s an infectious slice of summertime rap; what else do you need for these last few gasps of the season?

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