Sam Kinison was a heavy metal comic — he had the shrill voice and impish stature of Ronnie James Dio, and he famously wasn’t a very big fan of rap music.
Coney Island Nas impersonator Your Old Droog choses Kinison as his muse for his new EP to prove he can turn anyone with his low-tempo lyrical theatrics. Throughout “Kinison EP” asserts his “timeless” flow, name-dropping everyone from Alice in Chains to Misfits to Metallica to show how he measures up to the “music that kicks me in the face” that Kinison professed to love. Juxtaposed to rock ‘n’ roll, Droog is just a slick and just as edgy. He isn’t nearly confrontational as, say, Pantera, but no ponytailed butt rocker on the planet can deny just how nasty he brings it.
There is a bit of animosity between Droog and Kinison, as he raps “In your project like the human genome/I’m a G, you’re a gnome,” but most of the Ukrainian-American rapper’s pro-hip-hop dissertation is in good humor. He’s not trying to position rap as better than heavy metal, but rather he’s exploring how the two genres evenly influenced him. Without the drop D and double bass Kinison loved, Droog would never have been able to make goofy boast raps like “Sasquatch in a UFO.”
The EP — which, at 11 songs, is really more of an LP — curates beats that have a distinct MF DOOM feel, especially “Rage Against the Machine,” which pairs a sparse, plucky bass with birdlike chirps, a total departure from the techy riffs of the song’s inspiration. “Freeway Fire” sprints out the gate with jazzy horns and marching snare and is producer El RTNC’s best impression of the Villian. “Get the Paper” is a Rick Rubin experiment that borrows heavily from the Beastie Boys, though Your Old Droog’s even delivery centers the track perfectly.
Droog’s delivery is unassuming and easily glossed over. It sounds like he’s rhyming slowly, but he’s really twisting intricate in-rhymes with a nearly relentless string of double entendres and puns. Perhaps that’s why most rap fans see the New York emcee as a Nas derivative rather than the prodigy he is. On “Kinison,” he’s flipping bars like Nasty hasn’t done in a decade — and even metalheads have gotta respect that.