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Dreezy - Big Dreez Music Album Reviews

After a quiet few years following her 2016 studio debut, the Chicago rapper returns sounding self-assured, wrapping her sharp flow in lush yet punchy beats.

It’s been a quiet few years for Dreezy since she released her appealing 2016 studio debut, No Hard Feelings. She’s released four non-album singles since, but none of them really stuck. She was anointed the Princess of Chicago rap upon her arrival as a fresh-faced 20-year-old in 2014, but other artists moving into the same sonic spaces she’s occupied—Cardi B, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Tierra Whack—have covered more ground in less time, commercially and creatively. But those paying closer attention know Dreezy’s potential, and how it’s still paying out returns. She was recently invited to J. Cole’s rap summit for his Revenge of the Dreamers III uber-compilation, a nod from her peers to her obvious talent in what otherwise felt like a boys’ club; she played Rolling Loud, a festival notorious for underbooking women, two years in a row. Now 24, the Chicago rapper and singer has reemerged with Big Dreez, her second studio album on Interscope Records. “Made a name but ain’t chase the fame/Bitches trade respect for a paid gimmick,” she raps on opener “Chicken Noodle Soup,” as if to explain her current position. The album is a lesson in earning respect. Within these songs, Dreezy seems not just self-assured but gratified.

Tightly cut into scenes from an unraveling love triangle, No Hard Feelings was a more ambitious storytelling exercise; it was also more discerning about segueing from combative bars to sumptuous R&B songs. Big Dreez is a bit aimless by comparison, but it also feels like an evolution in Dreezy’s songcraft. The writing is tighter, the verses tauter, the hooks snappier. Edited down to 10 songs and 31 minutes, the album is a distillation of her abilities and an first-rate exhibition of her skill set.

Big Dreez has its flex anthems and its songs about trysts on the verge (of either collapse or combustion), most of which neatly fit into their respective categories. The Jeremih-assisted “Ecstasy” is like a sequel to their platinum hit “Body”; “RIP Aretha” channels the perpetual “Chiraq” freestyle burning within her. Dreezy is effective in both spaces, but she is still working toward finding a middle ground to connect these disparate elements of her sound. She’s getting closer: Three years ago, she couldn’t have made songs like “Cash App” or “Where Them $ @,” tracks that perfectly fuse her natural sing-songy tendencies with her silver-tongued technique. There isn’t much flow in the sequencing, but she delivers with consistency.

Dreezy can go rapid-fire with the best of them, hurtling into cadences with reckless abandon but sashaying in and out of them with an unwitting finesse. This is still her default setting, and when all else fails, she feeds off that aggression to relentlessly taunt the challengers in her rearview. “Niggas askin’ me stupid shit like who my competition. Ain’t no fuckin’ competition. Y’all in 2018, we in 2020,” she says in the album’s opening seconds, and her raps abide by this principle. Her design for pointing out her own progress is to treat her competitors as benchmarks she’s already passed; she’ll rap something like, “I ain’t goin’ back to what I used to do/Bitches hatin’ on me in an Uber Pool,” or “Just spent a light 30/I got enough bread to feed you lil birdies,” where the proof of her success lies in just how far ahead of rivals she is.

This tactic is aided by the album’s lush yet punchy soundbeds from trap mainstays Southside and London on da Track, along with producers of the moment like Take a Daytrip (Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba,” Juice WRLD’s “Legends”) and OG Parker (Migos’ “Walk It Like I Talk It,” Tory Lanez’s “B.I.D.”). The beats sound pricey and in your face without being obtrusive or compromising her carefully timed show-offs and put-downs, all performed with a sneer or a scoff. In the Pi’erre Bourne-produced “Chanel Slides,” an obvious standout, Dreezy and stunt mate Kash Doll put their degrees from “the U of Finesse” to good use as handbells crash all around them. It seems unlikely Dreezy will ever scale rap’s greatest heights, but it’s in these moments, on another impressive album, that she proves success doesn’t look the same on everyone.

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