WEBBIE SAVAGE LIFE Trill/Asylum/Warner
VARIOUS HUSTLE & FLOW SOUNDTRACK Grand Hustle/Atlantic/Warner
If you ever wanted to know what authentic independent Southern Hip Hop music sounds like, this album is a good start. Webbie’s sound is explicitly Southern. Some people would see that as a roadblock to national airplay and platinum plaque. Others will see this as the type of artistic and creative control that, if presented in the right manner, can also lead to the platinum promised land.
I’m going to be a little biased with this review, mainly because I’m from Tennessee. If you haven’t seen the movie Hustle & Flow, it’s about a down-and-out pimp from Memphis who has dreams of breaking into the music game.
Fortunately for Webbie, his current situation is the latter. Webbie does his music his way, for his community. Fresh off the independent success of Gangsta Muzik, a joint album with his Trill Entertainment labelmate Lil Boosie, Webbie already has a steady fan base ready to line up at stores to buy his debut solo album Savage Life. Webbie’s debut does not disappoint. Savage Life picks up right where Gangsta Muzik left off. The first joint, “G Shit,” is exactly what it claims to be – gangsta shit. Even though this album has its share of features, including Mannie Fresh, Trina, Bun B, and B.G., Webbie remains the star. Aside from the gangsta music, Webbie has his fair share of misogynistic records that women still love. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the album’s lead single, “Give Me That,” where Webbie and Bun B encourage all the women to give it up. Another record sure to be a hit with the ladies is the Mannie Fresh-assisted “Come Here Bitch.” Take a wild guess what that record is about. If you want to feel like you just ran through an authentic dirty South hood club, listen to this album. - Wally Sparks B38
OZONE AUGUST 2005
Now that you know I’m biased, here is my beef with this soundtrack: where are all the Memphis artists? Sure, you’ve got 8Ball & MJG, Nasty Nardo, and Al Kapone, but that’s not enough. But, rather than dedicating my entire review to this travesty, I’ll focus on how good the rest of the album is. This album is a classic hood movie soundtrack done in the image of the Menace II Society soundtrack, but it’s nowhere as good as that one was. Instead of putting out a compilation of throwaway tracks, remixes, and old album cuts from newly signed artists in the Warner Music Group stable, this soundtrack could have used more Memphis influence and less Atlanta influence. No disrespect to the Atlanta artists, because their songs are good, but they could’ve been better uses somewhere else. The songs done by the movies lead character D Jay are sort of an anomaly. They’re dope in a way, because they sound like real Memphis records (Al Kapone and Frayser Boy wrote the lyrics, and DJ Paul and Juicy J produced some of the beats). But the songs are still whack, because I know they’re fake. I guess that’s Hollywood for you. Still, no matter how much Terrance Howard talks about all the “anna on his chest,” ol’ buddy ain’t from Memphis.
YOUNG JEEZY LET’S GET IT: THUG MOTIVATION 101 Def Jam First things first. What the fuck is up with that intro? I wonder if that’s a beat from the engineer who supposedly got his head cracked for leaking this album? The beat is kinda dope in a weird Eastern Asian sitar kind of way. It just seems so out of place. As for the rest of the album, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Perhaps Jeezy says it best: “See, I spit it for y’all, on the real, my nigga, shit, I spit it for y’all.” Up next we have what could be the next ATL anthem: “Bang,” featuring T.I. and Lil Scrappy. Straight rida music! Throughout the album, Jeezy’s signature ad-libs (“Yeaaaaah,” “That’s riiiiiight,” and “Let’s get it!”) get a little old, but aren’t quite as nerve-wracking as “Who!? MIKE JONES!” Young Jeezy seems to be a graduate of the Project Pat school of rapping. He has the ability to put together extremely simple rhymes without making them sound like nursery rhymes. His flow is so smooth and fluid, you get so caught up in singing you don’t realize he’s not doing any Eminem-like verbal acrobatics.
Note to all you A&Rs over at Warner: Playa Fly, Gangsta Blac, Yo Gotti, Skinny Pimp, and DJ Squeeky are all from Memphis, and could’ve contributed greatly to the soundtrack. And even though Three 6 Mafia had cameos in the movie and did some beats for D Jay, they aren’t on the soundtrack. The next person who makes a movie about Memphis rap and doesn’t include Three 6 Mafia on the soundtrack should be clubbed over the head.
On the cut “Last of A Dying Breed,” featuring Young Buck and Trick Daddy, Young Jeezy and his collaborators explain why real men are scarce. The song also seems to be a gangsta tribute to Scarface and 2Pac. On “My Hood,” Jeezy rides a rubberband man-type rhythm and gives love to the place closest to his heart. Another standout cut is “Soul Survivor,” featuring a gut hook from Akon. The passion on this song is intense, and I don’t think anyone but Akon could’ve sung this hook. The Streetz Iz Watchin’ and Trap Or Die mixtapes got us all hyped up for the album, and Jeezy does what he always does: deliver that dope!
- Wally Sparks
- Wally Sparks
TREY SONGZ I GOTTA MAKE IT Atlantic/Warner Stories of hard times and struggles are often the foundation of many rap releases, but they’re rarely the basis for a full-fledged R&B album. Especially not when it’s coming from a young crooner with the official stamp of approval from the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. But this is the case of up-and-coming soul stirrer Trey Songz. His debut album, I Gotta Make It, is full of the tales of hard times you’d expect to hear from a new rapper trying to break into the overcrowded urban music scene. Hailing from the small town of Petersburg, Virginia, Trey combines the raw emotion of Al Green with the nimble vocal gymnastics of Marvin Gaye. Evidence of this lethal combination can be heard on his lead single, “Just Gotta Make It,” where it seems as if Trey is begging the audience to have his back throughout his struggle. Other notable songs include “Cheat On You,” “Your Behind,” and the remix of the lead single, which features labelmate Juvenile and the aforementioned Aretha Franklin. With such a heavyweight co-signing, the pressure is on the deliver the goods. Trey Songz comes through beautifully. - Wally Sparks
Ozone Mag #37 - Aug 2005