Rugby Thompson is a collaboration between Smoke DZA, the fiercest member of Curren$y’s Jet Life crew (and the guy who exhorts, “riiiiiight” at the start of his verses), and Harry Fraud, beatmaker of the moment (the Lords of the Underground-flipping hit “Shot Caller” for French Montana), conjurer of euphoric bangers (Action Bronson & Riff Raff’s “Bird On a Wire”), and the guy whose producer drop is the never-gets-old “la musica de Harry Fraud.” Here, Harlem’s Smoke DZA moves away from his usual novelistic weed and women tales towards something more noirish and well, New York — the thug fable “Playground Legend,” Scorsese-ian tough talk on “Fuck Your Mother.” It’s all very appropriate for a project inspired by Boardwalk Empire main character Nucky Thompson.
On “Ashtray,” in which Fraud puffs-up and screws down a 2 Chainz sample, the Jet Life right-hand man teams up with other second-in-command hip-hop crew members, Domo Genesis of Odd Future, and Black Hippy’s ScHoolboy Q. Other guests include Curren$y (of course), Action Bronson (who guests on the wrestling metaphor-filled “Turnbuckle Music”), and fellow New York worker-bee oddballs like Meyhem Lauren, Sean Price, and Thirstin Howl III. It’s like a joyous, grimy gathering of the underrated! Often, DZA sinks into the atmosphere of his production, and though there’s nothing wrong with that (see: last year’s delightfully chillaxed Rolling Stoned), he steps up here, resulting in his best project yet. Smoke DZA & Harry Fraud’s Rugby Thompson is available this coming Tuesday, but you can hear it now, exclusively at SPIN.