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by Ryan Snyder

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YOUNG PRINCE

DOPE Collective

Seven mixtapes. That’s a fairly impressive discography for a veteran rapper, but it’s mindboggling to consider that’s what DC emcee and Guilford College student Beau Young has done before even hitting the legal drinking age with yet another on the way. Number seven, DOPE Collective, dropped on Jan. 6 and serves as not only another stylistically wild entry into his catalog, but as the official introduction to the coterie of rappers and producers who make up the titular crew.

While last year’s excellent, sprawling mixtape War was as close as an emcee can get to putting out a definitive debut without actually calling it such, production and guest bylines litter DOPE Collective’s 17 tracks. The smoothed out boom-bap of Brenton Duvall makes a spot return on “Going Up” where songwriter Leia Sadiku lends a sultry hook, but the focus here is Young flexing his mic skills over beats by a litany of producers, even his own. Worldbeat electro by Milk N Cookies on “Looking and Laughing” provide the soundtrack for Young to wax wistful over the days he’d yet to learn to accept himself as an artist. Later, it’s grubby dubstep beats brooding on the quasi-spoken-word and self-produced “FRESHLETES,” a sporting play on Young’s admittance to being just an average athlete. Embracing anti-rap values is what sets Prince apart from a lot of his peers though; he’s not afraid to self-identify as a private-school kid because his flow is smart and impermeable. The beats on DOPE Collective are creative and accessible to a wide set of tastes and by the time he’s ready for a proper debut album to hit, it could be one of the most anticipated of the year.

78/100

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