The heads over at Delmar Records must have known what they were doing with the long rollout to Indiana Rome’s Dope Dealers 2
. It’s been a busy end of summer for the local label, especially as flagship artist Tef Poe released his anticipated War Machine III
a few weeks back, but Rome’s capable, increasingly melodic work serves as a personal counterpoint to Tef’s political, topical torment.
When we last wrote about Rome in this space, it was for 2011’s Who the Hell Left the Gate Open 2
(gotta love the man’s commitment to sequels). Four years ago his work was plenty hard-edged if a bit one-dimensional; DD2
continues his evolution as a lyricist and performer with solid, engaging production in the background.
If earlier albums found Indiana Rome inhabiting his mantle with top-dog braggadocio, his first cut “Dollar Short” opens the album with all the sweat and shortcomings that go into his hustle. It’s a thoughtful, soulful rumination on struggle and regret that’s given wings by a soaring saxophone lines, one of many groove-based tracks that helps give DD2
its largely silken feel. (Though, naturally, “Master P” pays tribute to the No Limit soldiers in both lyric and attack.)
Long-time collaborator Vega Heartbreak drops in for the AutoTuned, synth-funk slow jam “Rolling” and punctuates the hard-hitting “Woah Woah,” a track that gives Rome enough grist to unleash his most fleet-footed, self-assured verses. Those two songs represent the extremes of the palette this time around; most songs ride on smooth soul samples or center on loverboy hooks.
Courtney Orlando sells the love-is-the-drug anthem “Pusha,” and errant piano plinks and a stuttering rhythm turn “Cigarello” into a deliciously trippy cut. These songs challenge the nihilism of the dope-dealer archetype alluded to in the title; the only drug Indiana Rome seems interested in slinging is his music. The album art raises a similar question: A young man’s bare torso is shown, a gun in one hand and a microphone in the other. At least in this case, the mic looks bigger, and possibly more powerful.
Stream the album in full below:
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