LNDN DRGS – “Aktive (Deluxe)”

LNDN DRGS has cultivated their unique yet classic G-Funk sound for years, and now they’ve doubled down on their most iconic release thus far. Made up of Canadian producer Sean House and Compton-based rapper Jay Worthy, the duo has updated their 2015 album Aktive with nine new tracks, while making the deluxe version available across streaming services as well.

The group knows it’s sound incredibly well, building the album around keyboards and basey synths that give it its ‘93/’94 sound. At some points, touches of disco and funk will drip through, emerging between old-school samples and record scratches. The consistency of the album truly sets it apart, with songs diverse enough to keep it from settling into a dull monotone.  

“Time Flies / Big Wy” specifically features a sample of Janet Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies,” with Worthy as well as K-Dee fitting their verses around her soulful vocals. The mood then shifts on the second half when Big Wy enters the scene, rapping a hardened monologue of his experiences running the streets.

The album includes intermittent monologues and dialogues, starting with the first song “La Quinta” and threading their way through the rest of the album. These little pieces set up the tracks well, acting as a reset so that all the songs sound unique. Dialogues on track such as “The Makk / Burnt Out” or “Choose Up” are a lot sexier, whereas the ones on “La Quinta,” “Fast Blakk” or “Day 2 Day” introduce the song, giving it more of a 90’s radio show feel.

Title track “Aktive” features YG Hootie, who comes in with a dope verse, slightly distinguished from Jay Worthy’s to keep the song fresh. It has a solid rhythm, loud synths, and a funky bassline, while the keys behind the vocals keep the background ‘aktive’. Elsewhere, the newly-added “Tomorrow” is built around a sample of Giorge Pettus’ “Don’t Put Me Off ‘Til Tomorrow,” giving it a refreshing, colorful soundscape as Jay and guest rapper Freddie Gibbs try to convince a girl to let them spend the night.

“Flights” is one of the album’s standout tracks, as Jay and Stro spit first-class rhymes about their luxurious status and lifestyle. With an atmospheric sound and a repeating sax riff, the whole song slows the album down impressively, just before the project winds to a close. Stro has clever one-liners in his verse: “I’m on some first class shit / If I get high, I catch a red eye” and “Let em spend the night / even homer, like a Simpson.”

“Day 2 Day” involves another looping sax riff, this one a bit more active. Mixing jazz into the realm of G-Funk, Jay talks about his hustle to make it, laying out the steps he’s taken to get here. Then Cousin Stizz picks up, talkin about an average day for him, workin all night, keeping his mind relaxed, self medicating, learning from his lifestyle.

Above all else, the album knows it’s sound. Sean House does a good job of diversifying the beats and the instrumentals enough to keep you engaged, while never straying too far from what makes it succeed. Jay Worthy’s contributions are just as focused, sticking to raps in his deep, heavy hitting, voice.

Put together, Aktive (Deluxe) is a well assembled, clean cut, project, with the new additions seamlessly fitting into the soundscape. Well-connected in the industry, it’s clear LNDN DRGS has a lot ahead of them, leaving plenty of reason to be excited about whatever they’re cooking up next.