“Double The Hustle” is a titanic twenty track original album from The Mayor 304, with beats laid down by STR8GONE who also mixed and produced the entire album. The passion the rapper expresses in this collection may very well make it his best work so far. The album takes listeners on a journey spanning drugs, money and deep thoughts, while touching on real-life experiences and dipping further into street themes. For those new to The Mayor, the album may be a bit of a challenge to get through, but it deserves more attention than a quick skim to find bangers. In a year in which we’ve seen both formidable and lackluster bodies of work from both veterans and neophytes alike, The Mayor 304 stakes a viable claim for challenging album of the year with this release.
Self-awareness seems to be the fulcrum of The Mayor’s content. He knows what he gets right and what he gets wrong, and at every outing instead of fleeing from the things he got “wrong,” he instead perfects them. He experiments with the musical landscape of his projects, and is not afraid to forge both laid-back grooves and sinister, aggressive beats.
It is those exact juxtapositions that makes the album so seductive and powerful. Like a stack of 100s, The Mayor’s tracks are full of rich and exhilarating layers, which reveal themselves over time (and, quite possibly, a few puffs of weed). He is one of few rappers whose projects can see these different textures co-exist, without losing its cohesion.
“Double The Hustle” expounds on everything enjoyable about The Mayor 304. The personal nature of the album creates a bond between the listener and the rapper, which is a rarity in an age where polished rap persona archetypes are ever-present.
Broadly speaking, the production here is chock full of heavy hitters which all keep in line with The Mayor’s vision, from “Get Blazed”, to “Is That Hard Enough”, “Stacking The Chips 2” and “Staren Hella Hard”. I should think any West Coast hip-hop lover would dig a lot of The Mayor’s decisions here. Other highlights include “Icu” and “Insane with IceStraw Music” which contains some aggressive bars.
As a rapper, The Mayor 304 is much better than first meets the ear, spitting off insider details in flurries of ardor that camouflage technical proficiency and terse writing. The verbal proof can be heard on ad hoc tracks “Prod 1” and “Sample 1”.
It’s not easy to homogenize the opposing forces at play all throughout this album, but everything here feels like a genuine rumble through a mind inebriated by the reality of street life and chasing the American dream while the smoke-filled room spins in circles. When The Mayor succumbs to his vices, he’s not selling anything but his own reality.
And by the time he reaches the closer, “Weapon V2”, it’s clear that “Double The Hustle” doesn’t need to gel by commercial standards to showcase an honest, volatile mind who raps his ass off.
The record’s sonic spectrum is eclectic and at times psychedelic, and due to its sheer length comes across as almost monolithic. It’s a dense, complicated recording of varied sounds but an extremely specific purpose, and deserves to be acclaimed as such.