It’s a little hard to believe that Dijon MacFarlane, aka DJ Mustard, just released his first album. Even without one, he’s taken popular hip-hop by storm. He seems to be the go-to producer for anyone who wants a single that’ll bang in any club in the country. Everyone from YG to Ty Dolla $ign to Trey Songz has utilized his services. His simple, fun, pop-trap approach to beatmaking is immediately accessible and immediately identifiable, a produce phenomenon that may be likened to the Lex Luger of 2008, or Timbaland in 2006. 10 Summers, Mustard’s debut album, keeps that simple aesthetic wholly intact.
He doesn’t try anything new—not a single thing—but it doesn’t sound tired or stagnant. You can tell he’s enjoying the whole ride; for the most part, so are the people he gathered to hop on his songs. However, 10 Summers is little more than a cleaned-up mixtape. It seems like Dijon has recruited all his friends and stuck to the increasingly tired script. A producer like Mustard isn’t necessarily an album-focused artist—most of his time is dedicated to making hits for others so they can sell theirs. With such a pop-heavy career, it makes sense that he’d save some of the grimier, grittier shit for this. The first half of the album features songs called “Ghetto Tales,” “Throw Your Hood Up,” and “Face Down,” which are all about what you’d expect—cash, money, hoes. He changes tone on the second half, with a few more ballads and a couple amusing skits in which some guy can’t escape DJ Mustard beats on the radio. Still, the album feels like a collection of tracks, a vanity project for Dijon, as opposed to a cohesive, thought-out body of work that stands on its own.
The beats are universally catchy, if repetitive, but the features and content will likely leave any so-called “real hip-hop fans” with a bad taste in their mouths. DJ Mustard uses a combination of big names and unknowns (unknown outside the L.A. area, that is) on the album. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pretty good reason for the unknowns to be unknown, and the big names aren’t necessarily trying too hard: “Down on Me” is a standard hip-hop song about a bitch who likes to “drop it down on” Ty Dolla $ign, and occasionally 2 Chainz, apparently. It’s the obvious single attempt, and it’s banal. The beat is standard Mustard, which isn’t really a compliment.
The project only fares well through a handful of bangers scattered through the album’s first half. The full length’s biggest achievement is that it contains the most ridiculous song I’ve heard in recent memory, the aforementioned “4 Digits.” The entire track is about Fabolous’ girlfriend trying to unlock his phone because she’s suspicious, and him telling us she won’t ever be able to guess his code, but he isn’t cheating anyway. It’s the perfect mixture of awful things—it’s catchy enough to stick with you, but stupid enough to irritate you; it takes itself too seriously to be enjoyed as a joke; and, worst of all, the entire thing relies on the gimmick of the iPhone. Within a few years, it won’t even make sense anymore.
There’s something irresistible about Dijon’s beats, songs perfect to have in your iTunes for when they come up on shuffle and you jam out for a few minutes. With that said, we won’t be holding our breath for the next DJ Mustard album.
2.5 out of 5
You can buy 10 Summers on iTunes.