In Hiphop, it's all about the cosign. Rarely can a rapper come out with a hit song without a reputed affiliation with a respected figure. From Das EFX and EPMD to Em and Dre to Jay and Kanye, the list of Hiphop hat-tips resulting in lengthy, quality careers is a hearty one.
But the following example is not that. Kind of.
Your Old Droog, sometimes known as the fake Nas, has an eerily similar voice, cadence and flow(s) to one Nasir Jones. It's a comparison that Droog says isn't accurate. Kind of.
According to The New Yorker's Jay Caspian King, who wrote what appeared to be Droog's first formal interview with the mainstream press, the Brooklyn rapper says he's of a different mold. Kind of.
Though he respects Nas, he sees himself more in the lineage of Big L and Kool G Rap, rappers who shared his love of punch lines.
Not withstanding the fact that Nas is among the nicest with wordplay, Droog can rap with the best of them. His punch lines are ridiculously witty to the point that most are rewind-worthy to see if your ears were fooling you the first time around. But with the rise of other talented, new rappers who have seemingly based their entire careers' very existences on those of legendary and established emcees, Droog was instantly guilty by association. Kind of.
So when Masta Ace -- the Hiphop pioneer with one of the loftiest of lyrical statuses -- dropped his first album in four years earlier this month, imagine the surprise when the first voice that's heard is not his. It was Droog's.
While the verse was flaming hot, as has come to be expected from anyone familiar with Droog's young but growing catalog, it was the significance of Ace's symbolic gesture that gave this writer pause for reflection.
Droog may not have a single weak verse in his arsenal of released recordings, but he still can't escape the Nas comparison's that all but accuse him of biting and copying the God's Son. It could be because he seemingly doesn't have any Hiphop heavyweights in is corner vouching for him. Until now. Kind of.
Of course, Droog's list of musical collaborations isn't anything to sneeze at. The rappers he's rhymed alongside of is a formidable roster of emcees, to be sure. But they're mostly his fellow upstart rappers who are all trying to hustle their ways up the Hiphop ladder by any means.
Nowadays, collaborations are many times merely for business' sake -- an opportunity to further showcase and market rapping skills for the chance to increase earning power. And there's nothing wrong with that. Kind of.
But back in the precedent-establishing 80s and early 90s, a collaboration was a sign of mutual respect between rappers. When Big Daddy Kane put Nice And Smooth on his second album, for example, it was an unexpected marriage in Hiphop heaven that introduced the world to an apparent friendship behind the scenes that resulted in an organic, now-classic collaboration.
Whether Masta Ace's cosign can hush the haters remains to be seen. But, secretly, at least, Droog's critics can rest at ease knowing a would-be impostor is actually the real deal. After all, Masta Ace says so. Kind of.