‘Raise the Bar’ is VIBE Hip-Hop Reporter Preezy Brown’s New Music Friday column. Each week he picks one Hip-Hop song or album that deserves your attention all weekend (but don’t worry, he’s also got a roundup of honorable mentions below).
The long-held belief that removing the leader of an institution will cause confusion and dissension amongst its ranks has proven true throughout history. Yet there have also been instances in which said leader, before being struck down, groomed his or her disciples well enough for them to remain focused on the mission at hand while forging ahead in their fallen commander’s honor. Such is the case with the late Young Dolph’s Paper Route Empire.
The tragic murder of the Memphis rap star was a severe loss for the Hip-Hop community as a whole. However, the roster of artists on the budding mogul’s record label has maintained a united front despite mourning the death of their CEO, mentor, and friend.
Paper Route Empire pays tribute to the slain legend on Long Live Young Dolph, a new compilation featuring contributions from various artists on the PRE roster. Terse keys and sullen wails greet listeners on “LLD,” an introductory salvo headlined by Jay Fizzle, who reminisces on his fondest memories of Dolph while describing the impact he had on his life. Rapping, “My brother, my day one, my cousin, my homie/ My best friend, my biggest fan, now you gon’ leave me lonely,” Fizzle conveys deep pain amid impassioned riffs from vocalist Ricco Barrino, resulting in one of the more heartfelt selections on the album.
Key Glock, Dolph’s most successful protege and partner in rhyme, appears on the project’s first single, “Proud,” which finds Glizzock waving the PRE flag with pride and vowing to keep Dolph’s name alive. Turning up the tempo with a frenetic backdrop courtesy of BandPlay, Glock assures that he intends to carry on despite the overwhelming grief that’s overcome him in the wake of Dolph’s death. With lyrics like “I lost my dog, I lost my mind, no lie, I’m really lost inside/ I can get it back in blood, but still, I can’t get back the time,” the young star describes an emotion that’s as somber as it is steadfast, as he picks up the pieces on his first release since losing his comrade.
Sosa 808 crafts a haunting yet enticing soundscape on “In Dolph We Trust,” one of the more potent offerings on Long Live Young Dolph. “Let a n***a play with your name/ Or anything, somebody gon’ die today,” PRE spitter Big Moochie Grape croons in a menacing manner, promising swift retaliation for any disrespect levied against Dolph or his legacy. Snupe Bandz pops up on two occasions on the compilation, including the boisterous outro “I Know Why.” Yet the finest moment on the project comes via its namesake, as Young Dolph turns in a syrupy, lady-friendly anthem in the Chitana-assisted number, “Love For Me.” The song is Dolph’s first posthumous release to date. Produced by OthelloBeats, the string-laden groove is an infectious composition that should find a spot in various rotations and playlists in short order.
Running eight tracks in length, Long Live Young Dolph arrives under unfortunate circumstances but is a strong effort that serves as a showcase of all of the talent that Paper Route Empire has to offer. It’s also a testament to the late rapper’s influence. Consisting of vulnerable odes paying homage and respect to Flippa amid more free-wheeling fare, Long Live Young Dolph marks the beginning of a new chapter for Paper Route Empire and is a reminder that true leaders will always remain in spirit, if nothing else.
Check out some other notable Hip-Hop releases from this week’s New Music Friday below: