EST Gee & 42 Dugg "Last Ones Left" Review

BYAron A.7.6K Views
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Despite feeling more like a compilation than a joint project, EST Gee and 42 Dugg strike gold whenever they're in sync with one another.

Yo Gotti’s quietly developed one of the strongest rosters of street rap with CMG. The Memphis sound hasn’t departed far from the muddy bass and pulsating chants that have since proliferated throughout the generations. Artists like Moneybagg Yo and Blacc Youngsta are champions of the guttural street rap that describes places like Blackhaven and McMillan Streets to a T. The foundation of CMG is the homegrown talent Gotti nurtured but expanding outwards helped round out the roster in the past year.

Signing 42 Dugg and EST Gee, in 2019 and 2021 respectively, was part of Gotti’s initiative to grow CMG into a conglomerate. And their inclusion has played a pivotal role in extending Gotti’s reach beyond the millennials who consider his catalog a sermon of survival. Dugg and EST Gee are direct products of Gotti’s influence. Two streetwise artists who rap as if it’s more of a side-hustle than a career path. Despite their regional differences, there’s a brotherly bond they’ve formed under Gotti’s umbrella. The chemistry they’ve displayed in the past year on records like “Members Only” and “5500 Degrees" shows just how smoothly they mesh together on wax.

The results of the fanfare from their previous collaborations together propelled them to create Last Ones Left, a 17-track collaborative project that sometimes feels like a compilation more than a cohesive body of work. Some joint efforts benefit from the competitive nature between rappers but Dugg and EST Gee work towards complementing each other through contrast. Dugg’s nasally Eazy-E-esque becomes a palette cleanser from EST Gee’s ice-cold, gravelly delivery, and vice versa. And neither is working to draw the other outside of their realms. There’s a sweet spot between the guttural sounds of Louisville and the icy production of Detroit that ties together through a mutual understanding of a universal code of the streets.

Last Ones Left starts off as a marriage between their respective stomping grounds. Songs like “Spin” and “Thump Shit” stray into 42 Dugg’s sphere, where the remnants of the chilling Midwest sounds linger. Yet, FOREVEROLLING’s contributions, on songs like “I Never Judged You” work to EST Gee’s benefit, as well. Those moments allow for the massive presence of either 42 Dugg or EST Gee to rumble through the 808s. Gee issues fatal warning shots at his adversaries, while Dugg reaps the benefits of his success before leading into reflections on his friends and family members who’ve passed away or are incarcerated.

The pure chemistry they form in the first seven songs upholds the standard of their previous collaborations. However, there’s a shift with the presence of their respective crews halfway through the project. 42 Dugg enlists Tae Money, Reaper, and 42 Cheez on the glimmering, “Whole Gang Buss.” It’s a stark departure from the direction that Dugg and EST Gee were heading on the songs prior but it’s a welcome introduction to some of Dugg’s affiliates. Similarly, “Free Zoski” finds EST Gee, Big30, and EST Zo diving closer to the Detroit sound.

Dugg and EST Gee’s decision to highlight their crews is a form of paying it forward. In a way, you have to applaud the sentiment. But on the other hand, it does take away from the central focus of Dugg and Gee’s irresistible rapport as collaborators. Sequentially, “Whole Gang Buss” and “Free Zoski” break up the momentum that Dugg and EST Gee had already established, like when a headlining act allows their signee to take up five minutes of stage time mid-set.

The project unravels from what could’ve been a tight 7-song EP between two refreshing street rappers into a compilation that provides strong introductions to promising members of their team. The appearances from EST Red, EST Demike, and Tae Money serve to emphasize the album’s title, and the notion that there are few authentic street rappers thriving in the current climate of hip-hop without compromising their ethos.

About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.
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