If there’s one trend that has to cease in hip-hop, it’s established rappers brining through their cliques for group LPs featuring that star artist. A host of rappers have indulged us with their jayvee-quality rap groups from back home. Now T.I., the self-proclaimed “King of the South,” throws his hat into the mix with 25 to Life, the debut from PSC (Pimp Squad Clique).
Fact is, T.I. has a breadth of talent and pretty good rhyming capabilities, as evidenced by his successful solo projects Urban Legend, Trap Muzikand the early snippets from his upcoming release, King. But the first thing I thought of when I heard of PSC was Outkast’s imaginary mock rap group, Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique, which we were introduced to on Aquemini. Considering their previous guest appearances on T.I.’s solo releases, I figured the members of the collective would not be that different from the images drawn of the group from the mom-and-pop record store in that skit.
Although the four-member crew may not be the second coming of Wu-Tang, PSC does show an ability to flow and set itself apart from other Southern rap acts such as D4L or Dem Franchize Boyz. The crew’s first single, “I’m a King,” was included on the Hustle and Flow soundtrack, but when the video for it featured Lil’ Scrappy and T.I. rather than the PSC members themselves, we were left wondering who exactly the crew was. Perhaps it was the pressure of being on the soundtrack that caused most of the group to be pushed to the back, but PSC came out strong on songs such as “Walk This Way,” featuring Cee-Lo, and “Westside.” “Fuck Where You From,” featuring Young Jeezy, and “Life Like a Movie” are among the other highlights of 25 to Life.
But among the album’s fifteen tracks, none is a real standout. Eventually the guns, hoes and rims become a bit too commonplace, and what could’ve been a great debut leaves PSC in the middle of the pack, lingering around groups such as D-12 and the St. Lunatics.
The idea of brining your crew on after you break into the big time isn’t necessary a bad one. But perhaps some of these cliques are best at what they do best: crowding the stage and playing the background in the video. With T.I. back on the grind with his solo projects and a forthcoming movie, A.T.L., it doesn’t seem like the rest of PSC will be remembered for much more.
Atlantic Records Web site