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Indiana Rome is Saint Louis’ most vocal purveyor of the hustle, as evident on the cover of his latest mixtape/album Dope Dealer 2. Serving as a follow-up to last summer’s release of the same title, twelve tracks spliced with skits and musical intermissions narrate Rome’s respect and admiration for those getting the guap. Whether it be through the streets or the speakers, the money motive is clear and indiscriminate, mixing freely between metaphors to genericize dope and leave its definition to the listener’s interpretation.

Rome himself has a split personality when concerning his musical taste: an equal appreciation for both blaring bangers and silky soul. Carefully navigating the contrasting styles requires not only skill but experience, and Rome successfully balances this dichotomy without compromising quality. However, the tape shines brightest in the quieter moments when the bass of Rome’s voice reverberates his aspirations and shortcomings over his carefully curated samples.

While the skits (hilariously) tie the narrative together and offer a less jarring transition between tracks, they unnecessarily lengthen the project and slow some of DD2’s momentum. In the same way Danny Brown struggled between boom bap storytelling and Molly rap on Old, Rome may have been better served to borrow Brown’s album organization and create a two-sided LP, a side per style.

Despite its length, DD2 proves Indiana Rome’s prowess in production and shows the progression of his songwriting. Sprinkled with key features from notable local singers — Theresa Payne, Bryant Stewart, and Vega Heartbreak (among others) — Rome creates a relatable platform with catchy hooks and wide appeal that should please any hip-hop fan.

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Dope Dealer 2 is available for sale on Indiana Rome’s bandcamp: http://indianarome.bandcamp.com/album/dd2

Follow him on twitter and Instagram @indianarome

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