Caddy Da Don rolls through anticipated 'Cut the Check' mixtape

Caddy Da Don
"Cut the Check" mixtape (download it free here)
Monarch Entertainment Group
Rating: *** (out of 4)

Note: Videos linked in this review contain explicit language and imagery.

When Baltimore rapper Caddy Da Don, born David Rice, was released from prison in 2009 after serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for money laundering, he didn't waste time re-establishing himself as one of the city's most promising MCs. Last year, his club-banger "Grindin' on Me" found a regular home on radio station 92Q. Now, a year later, he's releasing his anticipated new mixtape, "Cut the Check," hosted by Maybach Music Group's DJ Scream.

In hip-hop, timing matters. Caddy seems to acknowledge this when he raps, "Heard they say I sound Ross / in my city been boss" on "Trap Life." He possesses a booming voice similar to current mainstream hit-maker Rick Ross. It's Caddy's most obvious gift, so he smartly rides it throughout the 17-track tape, bending it for hardcore street anthems (the excellent "Out of Line") and potential crossover singles ("She Bad").

As a songwriter and lyricist, Caddy has the potential to do what few Baltimore rappers have done — break through the Charm City ceiling and enter the national hip-hop scene. (He's second to only Los, the local rapper signed to Diddy's Bad Boy Records, as the Baltimore rapper to put your money on.) But he's not there yet — "Cut the Check" has stretches of generic trap-music and missed opportunities, such as "Retarded," which features rapper-of-the-moment 2 Chainz.

Despite the missteps, "Cut the Check" has songs that showcase Caddy's versatility. "Extra" is a silly track, but it works because of its commitment to its concept ("Long driveway, house extra far"). The undeniable "Counting Up," featuring a glowing interlude from Ravens star Ray Rice, repeats the "Grindin' On Me" pop formula with Auto-Tune. "Dear Streets" showcases Caddy's introspective side over a soulful DJ Toomp beat. But there's always room for improvement: "Heavy," the tape's best song, finds the swaggering D.C. star Fat Trel outshining Caddy, stealing the spotlight with his ice-cold nihilism.

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