Before that beef last summer, Meek Mill ruled the season with numerous anthems for years: 2011's "Ima Boss," 2012's "Amen," 2013's "Levels." All these songs captured the urgency, vibrancy, and freedom of school-free vacation weeks and months. There's a similar magnetism to be found in recent work from the Florida rapper Zoey Dollaz. Last year, Dollaz put out a song called "Blow a Check," which on first listen sounded eerily similar to the Philadelphia rapper (who, coincidentally, put out a song also called "Check" last year). It felt like a passing-of-the-torch moment, with Dollaz picking up the energy and drive that Meek Mill had dropped after his earlier singles.
Last week, Dollaz put out his first full mixtape since "Blow a Check." Port-Au-Prince shows that he can do far more than simple Meek Mill imitation — a Desiigner to Future, he isn’t. There are world-weary collabs with his label boss Future ("Taxi," "Hold Down the Set"), moments of paranoid introspection ("Me, Myself, and I"), and even a highly melodic track with an acoustic guitar part ("Ima Zoe"). That range makes for an endearing listen. The tape’s highlight is a collaboration not with a guest rapper, but with a notable producer: "Couches" features a striking backdrop from Jahlil Beats, the architect of many of those amazing Meek Mill summertime hits. It features the kind of clattering keys and hi-hats that add up to the frenzied pace that defines the producer’s best work. Dollaz’s demeanor conveys an exuberance that matches the production, even in the single line "Standing on the couches saying, ‘Fuck the bouncer.’" Port-Au-Prince often peels back the layers of Dollaz's machismo as he details his struggle and the mental toll of the days prior to his rap success, but "Couches" is pure triumph.