Hip hop fans here might be familiar with the buzz around a mysterious new hip hop artist named Your Old Droog. The rapper's voice and style bear a striking resemblance to hip hop legend Nas, and the hip hop community hasn't been able to help but speculate as to whether or not the newcomer is actually Nas himself. When I first heard Droog's new EP, I was so sure it was Nas that I didn't even bother reading any of the hype. But a friend pointed me in the direction of some press that apparently disproves the theory that Droog is actually Nas. Since then, I have taken it upon myself to become an obsessed expert, and here is what I found: 1. While Droog apparently had an internet presence prior to this year (a YouTube video and perhaps some other activity under the moniker “Grandma on Drums”), the Droog story got kick-started on April 28th of this year when NahRight.com (http://nahright.com/news/2014/04/28/your-old-droog-nutty-bars/) and EgoTripLand.com (http://www.egotripland.com/your-old-droog-y-o-d-nutty-bars/) both broke stories on the appearance of the new single “Nutty Bars” on SoundCloud, which technically had been on the website since April 9th: The Nah Right article indicates that writer Timm Hotep tipped off the publication, and while it also says that Ego Trip co-founder Sacha Jenkins had “co-signed” Droog, the Ego Trip article gives credit to Nah Right for breaking the story first. The Nah Right article also indicates that Droog is a 24 year-old rapper from Coney Island, Brooklyn. It should be noted, however, that Jenkins writes for Mass Appeal, the sister publication of Nas' new label of the same name, and created the “Nutty Bars” blog entry for Mass Appeal the following day on April 29th (http://massappeal.com/your-old-droog-nutty-bars/). 2. Droog's self-titled EP was released on June 3rd with fanfare from many blogs. Then on June 13th, Complex writer Dharmic X published an article explaining that Your Old Droog is not Nas (http://www.complex.com/music/2014/06/your-old-droog-is-not-nas). The author claimed to have met the real Droog on three separate occasions. The article also linked to the YouTube video for a song titled "Rhyme Strange" by Droog (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayZrTBqmEE4) that was published in December 2013 and done at a time when Droog went by the name "Invisible Droog". The cover art for the single depicts a caucasian male (apparently of eastern European descent) and a couple other photos surfaced as well. The same day the Complex article came out Mass Appeal tweeted the following: "Is @YourOldDroog actually @Nas? We've been sworn to secrecy. Listen to his new EP and decide for yourself." 3. Three days later, an interview with Dharmic X surfaced on audiomack.com (http://www.audiomack.com/song/refinedhypecom/nas-is-not-your-old-droog-1). In the interview, Dharmic X explained that he met an artist in 2012 and didn't think a whole lot of it, but when DJ Skizz, a collaborator on the Droog EP, forwarded "Rhyme Strange" to Dharmic X in December last year, Skizz explained that the artist Dharmic X met a year ago was Droog. In the interview, Dharmic X verifies that he met Droog on a couple other occasions but does not go into detail regarding the other meetings. 4. Regarding lyrics, there are several clues. In "Nutty Bars" Droog raps, "PBS throwing my special on / Sometimes I watch my special to feel special". This doesn't make a lot of sense coming from an unknown rapper. As for Nas, though he has had two appearances on PBS, they are very recent and actually didn't air until after "Nutty Bars" was released. On "Bad to the Bone", Droog raps, "Used to bag b!tches from Murrow to Midwood". This is apparently a reference to high schools in Midwood, Brooklyn, which is close to Coney Island, and while Nas grew up nearby in Crown Heights, he moved to Queens at a young age. Also in "Bad to the Bone", Droog raps, "Make these crackers think I'm smart and tell me how I'm so articulate". This line makes much more sense coming from someone who is non-white. On "U 47", Droog raps, "Hoes on my meat 'cuz I remind them of Boris Kodjoe". The allegedly eastern European male on the cover of the "Rhyme Strange" album art does not appear to bear any resemblance to Kodjoe, who arguably has a darker complexion. 5. As for Droog's voice, I personally originally thought it was just Nas rapping in a lower register, but I have come to agree with others that if it is Nas, he is probably pitching down his voice for the recordings. (My change of heart is largely due to the fact that--if it is Nas--the effect seems to have been used more liberally on "Rhyme Strange".) Someone actually went as far as pitching up the song "Gunsmoke Cologne" and posted it on SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/user1402886/gunsmoke-cologne-pitch-corrected). 6. The word "Droog" is apparently Russian for "friend". It could be a Clockwork Orange reference, and while it would make sense if Droog were really eastern European, it would also make sense for Nas to essentially choose a pseudonym that essentially reads "your old friend" in light of what would arguably be a return to an older, more raw and hardcore style of his. - - - Personally, I still think it's Nas despite the Complex article. Not only does the voice of Droog compare to Nas, but the vocabulary, vocal stylings, and subject matter do as well. The other key reason I think it's Nas is because it's too good. I find it very hard to believe that a newcomer could produce such a brilliant piece of work no matter how hard they tried to remain out of the spotlight. The rhyming reeks of the experience of a seasoned veteran. If it's not Nas, it also doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me for Droog to not come forward and clarify the confusion, and on the flip side, if it was Nas, it actually makes sense that Nas himself wouldn't come forward because it would contradict the point of the whole thing. Finally and to be honest, I merely hope that it's Nas. If it is, the EP stands to me as a brilliant work by a veteran artist making a triumphant comeback. But if it's not, while technically impressive, it is so similar to Nas' style in so many ways it would be hard for me to respect the work of someone who mimics such a well-known artist so closely.