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Will Hagle was born a superstar, so he put one on his fist.
Young Dolph was a late-bloomer in terms of when he became a popular and successful rapper. His younger years, which he dedicated to accumulating as much money as possible, counterintuitively gave him the financial safety net he needed to succeed later in what’s traditionally been a young man’s game. He’s only 33, and Wikipedia will tell you that he’s been rapping for the past 10 years, but the average fan would be lying if they claimed to really listen to Dolph regularly before he turned 28. That’s historically well past the age of washed for many rappers.
It’s now a few years removed from the momentum that carried Dolph during the early, exciting stage when he was beginning to break out, and he already sounds older than ever. His voice is gruffer, less dynamic, and more predictable. Dolph has always been captivating to watch for his resilience and defiant, nonchalant attitude in the face of repeated attempts at taking his life, but “By Mistake” sounds like the events of the past few years might be slowing him down, at least vocally. Perhaps that’s more the fault of the recording engineer than anything, but his voice sounds more one-note and unwavering than it’s ever sounded before.
“By Mistake,” from Dolph’s forthcoming Role Model album, is still a great song. Despite the slight shift in tone and energy of Dolph’s delivery, the lyrics haven’t faltered one bit. The chorus contains a joyously simple, repeated refrain: “I just walked in Barney’s and spent 40 by mistake (racks!).” The adlibs are clever and explanatory: “I’m flying down Elvis Presley in the race car (boulevard!).” The descriptions of monetary excess are impeccable: “House on a lake but I don’t even know how to fish! (damn…).” Although he sounds somewhat tired on the beat compared to past efforts, he also sounds in many aspects as if nothing has changed.
Almost every Young Dolph song ever has a video and “By Mistake” is no exception. The video, directed by Dolph and another guy, begins with a police officer approaching Dolph’s fancy-looking camouflaged car, the make and model of which I’m too lazy to look up because I know and care nothing about cars. Dolph blows blunt smoke in the cop’s face before speeding off, presumably down Elvis Presley (Boulevard!). Seated next to him throughout the duration of the video is, as he describes in the song, a white girl who “looks just like a Barbie Doll.” This, of course, is assuming Barbie dolls have disproportionate backsides these days and spend their free time flipping off the camera as they hang out the window of fancy cars.
Dolph doesn’t go to Barney’s in the video, but you get the sense from watching it that he’s the guy who could easily spend forty in there by mistake (racks!).
Although Dolph might be older than many his peers, it’s been a blessing for fans to watch him grow older and survive. Although his past few mixtapes haven’t quite matched his original breakthrough, “By Mistake” hints that Role Model may contain some of his best work. No matter what happens to Dolph or how his vocal approach to music changes, he’s consistent with clever lines and big hooks over good beats. Role Model may be slightly different, but it will also be more of the same, and the world is better with Dolph, his age, and his continued dedication to getting money.