Review ·

Is it asking too much of hip-hop to have a bit of humility, a semblance of good taste and maybe some fucking table manners? I guess the bigger question is, Why are rappers from New Orleans putting out albums and not talking about the way this country completely turned its back on them?

 

B.G.'s The Heart of Tha Streetz, Vol. 2: I Am What I Am could've been the middle finger we've been waiting for. Instead, it's poorly timed and wholly inappropriate -- eighteen nondescript tracks of posturing and mask-wearing whose best moment comes during the two-minute intro. As a former Hot Boy who's been rapping since age eleven (Streetz Vol. 2 is, unbelievably, his tenth album), B.G. should have the insight and fortitude to release something other than a sequel to a record that didn't require a follow-up. The Heart of Tha Streetz, Vol. 2 could've come out on the same day as The Heart of Tha Streetz, Vol. 1 (2005) or five years earlier; that it follows much better and somewhat more responsible albums by New Orleans natives Lil' Wayne and Juvenile only makes it that much harder to digest.

 

Lest you be misled, B.G. can rap. He's got this prowling, winding flow that easily dictates the songs in a way that's almost exhilarating. And his choice in beats is pretty top-shelf, minus "Move Around," the cheesy Mannie Fresh-produced first single, which sucks. As a lyricist, though, B.G.'s awful, and that's where most of the grudge against Streetz V.2 stems from. There's just no conceptual substance to anything that comes out of his mouth. He's defiant and unapologetic for all the wrong reasons, the kind of guy who brings his gun to kids' birthday parties because he never knows when some drama might pop off. In "Real Nigga," B.G. disses Cash Money and says his money got bigger after he left the label. (Are they still beefing over this?) "Pussy Pop" is all about popping them pussies. Hey, dude, didn't you hear? George Bush doesn't care about black people! Rise up!

 

To keep it fair, Weezy and Juvenile are hardly off the hook for selling music so soon after Katrina and not fully addressing its aftermath, either. (Sorry, "Get Ya Hustle On" is not a protest song.) But Juvy has personality and Wayne has talent. B.G. has glimpses of both but not enough of either, and I Am What I Am is too ignorant to know what to do with it, anyway.

 

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