Sum: Dragon Volume 1
In a hip hop game where where you rep is the difference between credibility and being written off, Sum‘s list of hometowns rivals that of Mitt Romney. His bio begins with “Unearthed in Chicago, raised in North Carolina, schooled in Atlanta, chiseled in New York, and polished in Los Angeles.” In that laundry list of place, you have every major hub of hip hop and North Carolina but while listening to Dragon Volume 1 it becomes obvious that only one of those places really matter.
On the album’s second track “Timeless”–a Ski Beatz production—Sum raps “with three stacks, I be an Outkast with these Benjamins.” While reference to Andree 3000 are nothing new (especially when your nickname is three stacks) but they are for Sum whose lyrics are not steeped in references to rappers. The lyric works more as a revelation of influence and set the glaze of which to look at the album.
While Sum is not Andre 3000, it is obvious he wants to be. Take “Gun,” for example. The P.U.D.G.E.-produced beat has a stripped down Aquemini feel to it. Like Outkast, the track does not fall into typical hip hop cliches. Instead of glorifying guns, the track is more a cautionary tale with a chorus of “you better watch where you point that gun.”
The highlight of the album might be its closing track, “Above.” Not only is the track catchy but it has some real weight in the lyrics. While the first verse is directed towards family and the second is about being an underground rapper (we get a nice Dungeon Family reference as well), it is the third verse that stands out. The third verse is directed to “the white kids who call me nigga.” Although the premise of the verse sounds angry, it is actually quite well thought out. As Sum explains “I can’t let you use words I barely use myself/you gotta have respect for what my grandfather seen/I know its hard for you to understand when every song you sing has got a nigga in it.”
The verse is the last heard on Dragon Volume 1 and it stands to make a good final impression. It lets the listener remember Sum as a thoughtful and wise rapper. Ultimately, it builds excitement for volume two which is supposedly already in the works.
MP3: Sum “Above”
Buy: FREE on Sum’s Website