New York rapper Your Old Droog's career got a jump-start with a case of mistaken identity. When Droog released a self-titled ten-song EP online in April of 2014, his raspy voice, effortless flow, and the throwback sound of his loop-heavy beats had some hip-hop fanatics convinced that "Your Old Droog" was simply an under-the-radar alias for rap superstar Nas. This speculation was aided by several nebulous references to Nas-related topics in the lyrics and production akin to DJ Premiere's strongest work in the early '90s, all of which gave the scrappy but incredibly strong EP a decidedly swaggering East Coast feel that aspired to the lofty heights of Nas' 1994 breakthrough, Illmatic. These rumors were soon disproved as Your Old Droog made his presence known more publicly, gaining enough steam from his online tracks to eventually expand the EP into a self-titled debut full-length. Listening to the the jazzy piano loops of tracks like "Nutty Bars" or the breezy, muted samples of "U 47," it's easy to see why fans were willfully hopeful that Droog was a Nas alter ego. While he has his own lyrical approach, the throwback style of the production harks back to the hungry early-'90s days of New York hip-hop, with tracks like "You Know What Time It Is" riding truncated, spooky RZA-esque beats that would sound at home on any of the early releases by the family of Wu-Tang artists. "Good Times" is an especially bright spot, Droog laying out a storytelling rhyme scheme over nostalgic samples of far-off trumpet and acoustic guitar noodling. Your Old Droog's portraits of New York street life may sound cribbed from a different time, and the comparisons to Nas' rough rhymes and blissfully jagged beats are understandable, but a solid listen to this debut reveals there's more going on than an emulation of times gone by. Droog's affinity for beats with a '90s feel simply speaks to an appreciation for the classics, and his songs aim not to copy those keystones of hip-hop but to rework and update them with his own personal sense of finesse and humor.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas