Release Date: Jun 19, 2012
Record label: High Times Records
Smoke DZA kicks a pair of compelling narratives on “Playground Legend.” The first tells of a talented emcee whose arrogance fuels his eventual self-destruction. The second feels like the cousin to DZA’s “On The Corner” verse (from his 2011 release, Rolling Stoned) about that basketball star who squanders the block for The Block. Both are common, arguably stock tales of the inner city’s unmet promise.
With Rugby Thompson, Smoke DZA aligns himself with a group of purists in NYC, including Action Bronson and Roc Marciano, who often prefer the work of one producer to many ? Rugby Thompson is produced entirely by Harry Fraud. According to Smoke, the project was inspired partly by the character of Nucky Thompson, from HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Smoke idolizes Nucky because "he's the boss; he plays both sides." The other half of the title comes from Smoke's obsession with Ralph Lauren's Rugby brand.
There’s moments on Rugby Thompson that remind of what we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from Smoke DZA. The afternoon weed nap inducing “Baleedat,” builds from the breezy “Personal Party,” from DZA’s last album, Rolling Stoned. “Playground Legend,” sees the rapper kick into his often overlooked storytelling mode, which he’s shown traces of on works like “On the Corner.” But while there are reference points to draw from, on the whole, DZA sounds somewhat different here.