It’s a gift and a curse growing up with New York hip-hop. You’re surrounded by the best talent in the world, from old school legends such as Pete Rock to young cats such as Papoose, but you build up a certain stigma, a cockiness that no one else can compare to that East Coast flavor. Outside of Andre 3000 and Big Boi (pre-Speakerboxxx/Love Below) and the occasional Chris Bridges or Scarface track, Southern rap just doesn’t get my blood flowing. So I was skeptical about Dem Franchize Boyz’ sophomore album, On Top of Our Game. Unfortunately Buddie, Parlae, Pimpin’, and Jizzal Man give me no reason to change my outlook.
Produced by rap’s equivalent of Max Martin (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync), Jermaine Dupri brings us an LP full of uninspiring, flaccid hip-hop. Even appearances by the overrated Young Jeezy and respectable Southern artists such as Bun B and Three Six Mafia cannot save the album. Da Brat makes an underwhelming comeback on “I Think They Like Me (remix)” (the original was released as “Oh I Think They Like Me” on the Boyz’ eponymous debut in 2004), and if you’re expecting lyrical gems from “Bricks 4 the High” featuring Jim Jones, expect to be disappointed.
“Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” just proves my theory that, after “Laffy Taffy,” the latest club hits are songs that sound like they were produced by a five-year-old on a Casio keyboard. It’s quite comical when you consider the allegations of an ongoing beef with the Atlanta group D4L (which is, to borrow a phrase from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, “like pooping on poop”). Throw in lyrics by Jizzal Man such as “I’m the boss of my own shit, I’m the ruling general/ Bricks lined up like cars at a funeral,” and you almost start to believe Bill O’Reilly has a point in his crusade against hip-hop.
No matter what Fat Joe (who’s last album flopped worse than Don Cartagena himself off a diving board) or Cam’ron says (who all of a sudden has become Detective Stabler from Law & Order SVU), it’s good to see Nas and Jay-Z reuniting. I hope they will bring that In My Lifetime/It Was Written shit back to the table and force groups such as Dem Franchize Boyz either step their game up or stick to promoting undershirts.
Boy, I think they like me? Well, don’t count me among the masses.