In a year of entertaining and memorable hip-hop releases, Detroit emcee Bruiser Wolf still managed to come out with one of the most intriguing, fascinating and humorous projects of 2021. On Dope Game Stupid the Detroit-rapper finds his pocket, with a cohesive and animated project that showcases not only his unique vocal delivery, but his witty and intricate lyricism. His voice is raspy, the intonation in his voice often sounds sarcastic and playful, while his delivery is almost spoken word like. Signed to Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade Records label, the talented emcee is able to find his own lane, aided by some of the most eclectic and colourful production predominantly from Raphy. There’s something about this album that makes me come back to it again and again, ever since its release in late March. It’s like stumbling on a rare gem on Bandcamp, something I cherish deeply in my search for new music, and I think it definitely has the potential to be one of my most played and loved albums of this year. Anyways, enough with the initial praises, let’s actually talk about the music.
Dope Game Stupid kicks off with “Thank God” featuring Apropos, a colourful and feel-good opener that sees Bruiser Wolf talk reflect on what he’s grateful for, thanking God for being where he’s at. The singing feels somewhat off-kilter, but it works so well. “Use Me (I’m Dope)”, the longest track on the album, is also, at this point, my favourite. The vibe of it all, brought by g n synth-heavy production, is complemented by Bruiser Wolf’s enigmatic vocal delivery, as he showers the track with witty references to sports and drugs among other things. “I gave her the johnson two times like baby powder” is one hilarious reference that stood out to me throughout the album. The title itself is a double entendre – Dope being a reference to both him being cool and great at what he does, as well as obviously drugs. The charisma he exudes within his music is emblematic of the themes and references to this track, particularly due to the fact that 1) his music is genuinely addicting and 2) he’s an incredibly talented and dope emcee. “Freak Accidents” is another great track with some of the most outrageous yet hilarious bars. “Uh, your girl was in a coma / She was down to get the dick and guess who was the organ donor” literally made me laugh out loud. “Chess Move$” and “Middle Men” featuring Fat Ray are both incredible tracks with incredible beats, and the latter of the two features this soulful groove and a vocal contribution from Fat Ray that perfectly captures the eclecticism of Bruiser Wolf’s sound and vision. I know I’ve mentioned Bruiser Wolf’s humour throughout this review, but this is also an album to take seriously. Drugs and guns are referenced all over the third verse of “I’m A Instrument” featuring Danny Brown, a unique and intelligently produced track that also captures the smarter, more intellectual side to his music. “OT For A Day” is an incredible track too, while “Syndicate” is another gem. He proclaims “Uh, I get hated on ’cause I made it from where I made it from / Didn’t have a lane so I created one / Money is my native tongue, Detroit’s native son”, with pride. He represents Detroit with love, and the real fascination I have with his music is that affinity to Detroit and that sound. Danny Brown is an ambassador and true innovator with that, and Bruiser Wolf is following in his footsteps effortlessly. “White is Rain” is another exceptional piece, with smooth, melodic piano keys, and a catchy sung hook. The Knxwledge-produced closer “Moma Was a Dopefiend” is a stellar closer to the album. It’s a truly emotive and introspective moment where he reflects on his mother and what she meant to him. His ability to draw that personal experience in an animated and captivating manner speaks to his ability as a magnificent storyteller. This is what makes his music so interesting to me.
Overall, Bruiser Wolf came through with an incredible body of work that captures his artistry with textured and intricately composed tracks that sound bold and expressive. Raphy, acting as main producer, killed it with each and every track, but also a special shoutout to dream beach (who co-produced “Whip Test” with Raphy”) and Knxwledge for lending their talents to this album. Dope Game Stupid is stellar body of work, representing Bruiser Wolf’s bold and expressive voice – an exciting new artist for 2021. The project is a true gem that deserves all the praise in the world. Excellent work indeed, go support!