Rappers don’t often get second chances. If they’re talented and lucky enough to get signed, money, riches and diamond things are far from guaranteed. In 1997, when the then-seventeen-year-old Young Buck signed with up-and-coming Cash Money Records, it was an opportunity for him to stretch beyond local ciphers in Nashville. But the label was occupied with Juvenile, Baby, B.G. and Lil Wayne, and Buck’s career was put on hold while the bling bling movement spread from the New Orleans ghettos to white suburbia. But instead of fading into obscurity, Buck met 50 Cent and traded his Cash Money piece for a spinning Gorilla Unit medallion.
Only two months removed from G-Unit colleague Lloyd Banks’s debut, Young Buck’s Straight Outta Cashville will inevitably be pitted against it. So let’s get it out of the way: Banks is the more accomplished emcee, but Buck’s superior selection of beats and his ability to raise his lyrics above the “ice in my teeth keep the Cristal cold” make Straight Outta Cashville the best G-Unit release to date. Aside from a terrible Tony Yayo verse structured around the song “These are Few of My Favorite Things,” 50, Banks, David Banner, Ludacris and Lil Flip all provide notable material.
But it is Buck who holds down the album, with a limited lyrical showcase of the 3 Bs: blunts, bitches and bullets. On “Bang, Bang,” producer Needlz samples the recently rediscovered Nancy Sinatra song that RZA brilliantly scored for “Kill Bill.” Buck boasts over the track: “Brain fragments from shotgun blastin’/ I’ll take a nigga breath/ It’s death before dishonesty, dope deals and robbery,” only to balance his violent rhyme with this: “The government’s the drug dealers, fo’ sho’.”
Lead single “Let Me In” has propelled the album through its first weeks, but it will be the Lil’ John track “Shorty Wanna Ride” that will push the album platinum. Lil’ John does what he does best, getting females to get low like Vivica and males to throw bows like Luda. “Welcome to South” will keep the streets buzzing and has added fuel to the inane beef between T.I. and Lil’ Flip over who is second in the south under King Scarface.
Cynics will criticize Straight Outta Cashville as another typical G-Unit album, only this time south of the Mason-Dixon Line. But Buck is more than just a 50 flunky and can hold down an album on his own. You can’t argue with success: G-Unit is running this.