A 22-song mixtape called Dum and Dummer seems like a fairly innocuous proposition at this point in the rap game. If you were to tell me that Memphis’s self-made independent icon Young Dolph was teaming up with Key Glock (who?) to make said mixtape, this wouldn’t effect much of a response either. And yet Dum and Dummer makes for maybe some of the most fun that this critic has had all year. Despite the hour-long runtime, every track here is straightforward as hell. The beats are heavy, menacing trap confections, but eminently clean; every note of the wavering organ of “Black Loccs” or the harpsichord of “Pride” (as well as more typical synth instrumentation strewn about) clearly stands out. The bass lacks distortion. There’s an underlying determination to each element of the music, all of which allows Dolph’s monstrous cadence to grab listeners and keep them at attention. A particular late run of tracks (“Everybody Know” to “Dum and Dummer”) tells a fractured story, hitting all the familiar beats of hood braggadocio.
But moments that commit to the absurd (“Look in the mirror / My reflection a bag of money”) consistently shine through. On penultimate track “Crashin’ Out,” Dolph maintains intensity but takes a probing, melodramatic view of his come up, centered around the cold-as-ice line, “I let my nuts hang, went out of town and went mobbin’, ni**a / Think ’bout my childhood, all I remember is starving, ni**a.” Key Glock, on the other hand, is something of a Stunna 4 Vegas to Dolph’s DaBaby: he’s both raspier and softer spoken, and sounds more like he won’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. But Glock also has the same underlying determination in his voice that Dolph does. Take “1 Hell of a Life,” an early standout on which the duo trade bars and let their plodding deliveries contrast and swing over a stoney guitar riff; or consider how Glock smears his words in the hook of “Monster,” trying to play the villain: “Just look at what God created / A monster, a motherfuckin’ monster / Shout out to my grandma, she know she raised a hustler, yeah.” Despite some of the big feelings and oversized presentation from these larger-than-life trappers, Dolph and Glock’s album is richly subtle in its pleasures.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Summer 2019.