It’s been an eventful few years for Young Dolph, the ascendent Memphis rap star. Last year, assailants fired 100 bullets at Dolph in Charlotte; a bulletproof car saved his life. Then, a few months later, Dolph was shot multiple times outside a Los Angeles hotel. But it hasn’t been all violence. Earlier this year, a Duke University vice president insisted on the firing of two baristas after he walked into a coffee shop and heard one of Dolph’s songs. Afterward, Dolph brought those two baristas onstage at Miami’s Rolling Loud Festival and handed each of them $10,000. The whole things was a total PR coup.
And amidst all this chaos, there has been music. There has been a lot of music. Dolph released four albums last year and one EP earlier this year. But Dolph’s new album still feels like a starmaking moment for someone who was already well on his way.
Dolph’s new album Role Model opens with “Black Queen,” where he raps plaintively and charismatically over a florid piano, no drums. He talks about being a “rich crack baby” and about the struggles that came from being born into poverty, with parents who weren’t stable. But he also raps, with genuine awe, about his own come-up, and how he can smoke weed with those same parents on a yacht. On first listen, the tracks on Role Model are both more muted and more dramatic than on previous Dolph records. He’s finding an aesthetic that’s a bit more low-key and confident than the trap of his past records. Snoop Dogg, Offset, Key Glock, and Kash Doll make appearances. You can use Spotify to stream the album below.
The self-released Role Model is out now.