Doughbeezy Attempts to Find Normalcy With 'Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid 2'

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The first time I saw Doughbeezy rap, it was at SF2 North on the Northside. Tucked off in a strip center off Greens Road, Doughbeezy stood in front of a crowd of people, rattling off rapid-fire punch lines to render his invisible opponent useless. He didn’t look physically imposing — a guy in a T-shirt, southside fade and pair of Jordans. He was round and rapped with a confidence the size of a midget on his shoulder. Killa Kyleon appreciated him, the crowd appreciated him and he shook hands and greeted everyone. That was six years ago, before Doughbeezy completely left his job as a cake decorator at Walmart and dove head-first into rapping.

It's been five years since his proper debut mixtape, Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid. Four years since Blue Magic, on which he focused more on crafting songs and legit radio singles. Three years since he spent more time on features and stepping on people’s necks. Two years since Footprints On the Moon gave him a definitive anthem, a bit of national regard and a firm footing in Houston’s rap scene.

Last year could be considered the best and worst year of Doughbeezy’s life. The most challenging part found its way onto “Trust In My Gun,” the third song from his Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid 2 mixtape released earlier this week. Only there, bracketed around a chorus that lists off his two daughters, his wife, his son, his mother and the Headwreckas as the only people he’ll ever fully trust, does he mention the events of January 21, 2015. He still won’t talk to the press about it, but he details the events that nearly led to him losing his life in a botched home invasion. With an assault case hanging over his head, potential jail time as well, Doughbeezy was in vertigo.

He couldn’t move for months without anyone asking him about the attempt on his life. The media knew his name more than ever, though it wasn’t for a reason he’d like. He released music sporadically, a freestyle over Future’s “Commas” and then snatching up Young Dolph’s  “Preach” with KAB Tha Don. It didn't sound as comical or fun as previous Doughbeezy releases solely because of the fact that life almost sucked everything out of Dough. In a sense, he redshirted 2015 and kept himself away. The standoffish nature and slight sense of joy plays all over RBKA2, the sequel to his 2011 tape that decides from the onset that it wants to be a meaner, almost surly rap tape.

Most of Doughbeezy’s releases over the past five years have been loose, focusing mainly on punch lines highlighting his sex game, his affinity for weed and grace in regards to the past. That’s how “Pass the Swisher” became a cult favorite, with tropical drums and Doughbeezy comparing the color of his weed to Disney characters. Or how “Fuck You” can be a middle finger ready punch in the throat but an enjoyable, anthemic one. RBKA2  jumps around and flashes on moments where Doughbeezy can freely love to bullshit on beats again. But he’s far more cautious about his raps, spending a section of the tape referring back to his .40 cal or even carrying a .22 as if his name was Emmitt Smith.

It’s a tape of catharsis, one where Doughbeezy’s year-long paranoia has taken his comedic wit and added a bit of gravitas. “People these days more salty that a super-size fry, ol’ Mickey D head-ass nigga,” he jests on “Nothin’ Scary," a chest-thump moment with Sauce Walka. Dough navigated these records with relative ease in the past. Pairing him with Sauce Walka on a track where Walka’s outstretch personality attempts to hijack things only makes him push further into his creativity.

Around 40 seconds into the opening track, Doughbeezy snaps into a tangent about various footballers. It’s him taking what he does with free will, stacking associative symbols back to back until he immediately takes a slant route to another place. When he jumps in and out of his bag, the results are typical Doughbeezy. He snaps up Sauce Walka’s “2 Legited” and punctures it with more laughable one-liners about oral sex in Missouri City and settling for one of the more underrated Timmy Chan's locations around town.

Considering Dough’s penchant for choosing beats that fit him, there’s a reason he chose low- to mid-energy records from others to jump on; the original tracks are woozy, late-night cruisers from the likes of Sly Drexler, Fred On Em and more. Dough toys with sing-song flows and sounds foreign to fans here, his emphasis on “uber” possibly the most hilarious of all. Yet most of his world operates the same as it used to. There’s more admittance of the past, more yells for authenticity and more chases for actual balance. He still talks about sex the same way your wet-dream narrator does (“make her jaws catch these balls like a pop fly”) and sets up moments where guests like Bun B, Starlito and Jack Freeman can crush their appearances. The best Doughbeezy finds middle ground through all of it, like on "Everybody Ain't Real." The most hilarious Doughbeezy isn’t actually him at all. It’s KAB Tha Don on RBKA2 admitting what he, the rapper, cannot do for you.

As with most Doughbeezy releases, the most analysis geared toward this project will sit around the punch lines, which ones were the most humorous and quote-worthy. But there’s something to this being a more cursory release, a cleaner, leaner tape all around. It’s Dough's project since the No Money, No Conversation EP that isn’t 16 tracks, and it’s perfectly fine. There’s no clear indicator of where he heads next because before last January, it was pushing “I’m From Texas” to the moon. Now? It’s trips to the gun range to continue practicing his aim and starting over. Somehow, Doughbeezy survived a year in a certain section of hell and gained a new appreciation for things.

Even if it made him far more cautious about everything else.

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