DJ Mustard's breakthrough was 2011's "Rack City." In the time since, he's honed a style of club music that sounds like slowed-down jerk music. His production style, which he's dubbed "ratchet," is testament to the effectiveness of making subtle variations to a simple idea, and how flipping a few basic rhythmic elements can shift the entire mood of a song.
With his latest anthem, Young Jeezy's "R.I.P.," still in heavy rotation on radio, his new solo mixtape, Ketchup, feels like an attempt to solidify his status as an auteur. Both Lil Jon and Timbaland show up to cosign, as if welcoming Mustard to the superproducer club. (You can download the mixtape here.)
It's a smart move from a business POV. But Mustard is no Lil Jon or Timbo. Compared to the open, unexpected, pop-oriented sound of those producers, his style is more in the lineage of straight hip-hop. It also probably bears mentioning that Timbo and Lil Jon became household names after a long grind in the industry; Mustard is not.
That said, the new tape is more varied than any of his previous ones. "Burn Rubber," flips a Too $hort banger of the same name, "4G's" feels like a throwback to the Traxamillion era, "Nothin Like Me" with Dom Kennedy sounds smoother than the typical "ratchet" track and "Fuck That Nigga" finds the producer experimenting with new instrumentation. Mustard is expanding his palette with Ketchup.
Relish the results below. (Sorry.)