Album Review: Mustard - Perfect Ten
Los Angeles super-producer DJ Mustard is back with a tracklist full of high-level features, club bangers, and an unmistakable west coast sound that he helped pioneer.
Dijon McFarlane (Mustard) has been riding the streets of LA since he was born in 1990 and his hometown pride shines brightly in all his music dating back to 2011 when he co-produced YG’s classic mixtape Just Re’d Up. The decorated DJ has worked with nearly every modern Los Angeles rapper from Dom Kennedy to Nipsey Hussle. Mustard commonly refers to his sound as “ratchet music” that is inescapable at clubs and parties leading us to wonder if he would ever abandon this pop-driven style for something with more substance.
DJ Mustard began Perfect Ten’s rollout at the beginning of the new year when he dropped “Pure Water” on January 16th. The track features the Migos with Mustard cooking up the perfect high energy instrumental allowing the three Atlanta rappers to have an instant hit. Following in-stride with the producer’s earlier work, this song was constantly in rotation on the radio and in the club for months.
Five months later Mustard followed up his smash with another star-studded track “100 Bands” which features Quavo, 21 Savage, YG, and Meek Mill and while I love all these artists individually the track came out as overly generic. Although the single sold well it was easily the most disappointing out of his three pre-releases.
Exactly one week prior to the album's release, Mustard dropped “On God” aided by A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky, YG, & Tyga. While this song was unimpressive to me upon release, over the past two weeks it has grown on me every time I hit play. Now I believe “On God” is one of the hardest hitting tracks on the album and home to Tyga’s best verse of the year.
On June 28th Mustard released Perfect Ten on his new sub-Interscope label, 10 Summers Records. The album is ten songs long and runs for just over thirty minutes. Upon release, Mustard took to Twitter to say that he didn’t care about sales but rather just creating timeless music.
The album gets right into things with the first track “Intro” being potentially my favorite joint on the album. The track showcases a classic Mustard beat that uses a pitched vocal sample making the human voice sound like a trap whistle. Rising LA rapper 1takejay is featured on the track and is tasked with being Perfect Ten’s attention getter, something he is very good at. Jay’s nasally LA drawl slices through the instrumental with a certain cockiness and swagger that is near impossible to match. The hook is catchy and Jay keeps us coming back for more with his unique flow that is sure to gift him many hits in the near future.
After two of the three pre-releases, we are graced with the sure-to-be fan favorite “Baguettes in the Face” which features Playboi Carti, NAV, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. NAV takes the hook with Carti and Boogie each getting a verse to themselves. Each artist stays very much in their specific lane making this song familiar yet fresh and pleasing all three artists' somewhat culty fan bases.
Mustard experiments with a very Latino-inspired instrumental on “Interstate 10” with Future but really the track sounds more like filler than any sort of creative deviation.
This album peaks at the end with the last two tracks being emotional, exceptional, and as West Coast as it gets. The first of the two, “Ballin’” features the young LA legend Roddy Ricch. Mustard’s relaxed instrumental is the perfect home for Roddy’s street bars allowing him enough room per line to continue to switch his flow and pack rhyme after rhyme into each stanza. Roddy’s melodies are addicting and “Ballin’” is a song that can be played anywhere anytime.
The album concludes with the somber “Perfect Ten” which shines the spotlight on Mustards frequent collaborator and friend, the late Nipsey Hussle. The instrumental is anchored by beautiful guitars and allows plenty of open space for Nipsey to inspire listeners with his laid back flow and speaking interludes where he drops knowledge about LA, hip-hop, and life in general. The marathon continues.
Perfect Ten is the new standard for how entertaining a collaborative album headlined by a producer can, and should, be. Mustard seamlessly recruited high-level features for every track without allowing the project to sound like a shallow dinner party for the famous, like his peer DJ Khaled frequently does. He maintains some level of cohesion throughout the entire project which is a near-miracle since his voice/writing is not featured on the project. On Perfect Ten Mustard achieved exactly what he set out to accomplish, the creation of a fun album with no skips, proving that less truly is more.