Dee-1, The Focus Tape (Independent)

Dee-1, The Focus Tape, album cover

Want a testimony as to how Dee-1 has managed to be so successful? Despite his meteoric rise over the last couple of years and nonstop hustle, he’s getting better. Expectations have been high for Dee’s Focus Tape as pundits and fans alike wondered if he could capitalize on his newfound fame. Also, skeptics wondered if Dee was a legitimate artist or just a gimmicky “positive” rapper. As soon as the project begins, the LSU grad proves he’s got enough skills to move the needle for the long haul.

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The Focus Tape starts off by highlighting Dee-1’s skills as a legitimate emcee and more than just a man with a message as he tears through a Miles Felix-produced cut, “Focused,” during which he proclaims he’s a mix of Public Enemy and B.G. That comparison is not more apparent than on his ode to No Limit’s general, “Master P,” where he exudes the energy and personality that makes him so dynamic while advising not to listen “if your goals ain’t high.”

Dee-1 purists need not worry, though, as hard-hitting commentary is present in spades. “Never Clockin’ Out” is a motivational dream collaboration with Killer Mike and among the strongest tracks in Dee-1’s catalog. “Shut Up And Grind (#S.U.A.G.)” is the viral single that brilliantly turns the idea of “swag rap” on its head in classic Dee-1 satirical fashion. And “You Stupid Fool” takes the more direct approach, turning the mirror on society’s most contradictory priorities.

By the time The Focus Tape dropped, the pressure was on Dee-1 to see if he could follow up his recent successes with a complete project. Without a doubt, he’s impressed and given rap fanatics something on which to focus.