“High Roller” is a true-to-form Dirty South style anthem, with a southern twang on the vocals giving it that signature grit. High Rollaz, the principal artist on the track, has done some notable work lately, including a 2019 feature with the infallible KXNG Crooked, on a song called “Circle of Bosses.” Big Tuck, the feature on this track, has plenty of impressive collaborations to speak of, including ones with Chamillionaire — often credited for popularizing Dirty South with his song, “Ridin.” In 2006 alone, Big Tuck also worked with Bun B, Erykah Badu, and Paul Wall just to name a few. Dirty South is a sub-genre within Hip Hop, which, has not proven to be able to stand the test of time — unlike it’s still popular cousin, the Atlanta Trap sub-genre. Still, being nothing if not a purist, I commend them on their steadfast attempt to stay true to the time-held specifics of their stylistic sub category. Sounding new in its masterful production, but old in every other way, this song plays like the best possible version of an otherwise outmoded period in Hip Hop.
In the vocal stylings of these two artists, you’ll hear a little Big K.R.I.T. (Especially in vocal intonation; think, “Confetti” from K.R.I.T.’s 2017 project), a little Jeezy (though Jeezy sounds a little more Atlanta influenced, to me, in terms of Southern classifications), and of course, Chamillionaire. No one can ever hear a Dirty South song without hearing Chamillionaire, and the fact that he did this style such original justice, may explain why so many after him have all fallen a little flat with their subsequent releases.
The composition bounces fluidly, with surging risers ramping up the listener’s anticipation between verse and hook.
High Rollaz starts the track off, and immediately pin-points the regional influence with his true-to-form rendition of Dirty South vocal stylings on the quintessential Dirty South sound backing him in the beat. It sounds a little antiquated, but, this is a style which Hip Hop once loved and respected, and literally nothing has changed. So, while our tastes may have, there is still just as much to love about this style, now, as there was before. So I would argue that this is a perfectly valid stylistic choice, even in today’s market. Especially when it’s done this well. Big Tuck takes the second verse, and all but steals the show. He sounds incredibly more accomplished vocally than he did on his last album, almost eleven years ago.
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The beat is a classic Dirty South style instrumental. It’s upbeat and especially energizing, which is something that sub-genre is well known for. The composition bounces fluidly, with surging risers ramping up the listener’s anticipation between verse and hook. Repeating arpeggiated synth notes trill manically mid-mix, having the occasional filter sweep over it, ducking it into nonexistence, and providing some reprieve from the endless repeats of arpeggiation, which loops in quickly-repeating intervals. 808’s and booming kicks provide the stylistically-standardized drum backing, topped off with almost trap-like high hats, only different from trap high hats in that they occur in slightly slower, slightly less frequent runs.
“High Roller” by High Rollaz featuring Big Tuck is Dirty South at it’s finest, and, in listening to it, I realize there’s a lot I forgot I loved about this region-specific style. However, in terms of how the best-of Dirty South stacks up against the-majority-of modern Hip Hop, I think the general consensus, (unfortunately for this time honored style), is that it would not. At least not in terms of wide-scale marketability. At the very least, the Dirty South style deserves our acknowledgment, and these artists, our respect. Whether they try to modernize their take on the southern rap style, or stay purely true to the origins of their sound, respect where respect is due. High Rollaz and Big Tuck are two artists who have definitely earned our respect.
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