"Can there be redemption for a bitch?" seems to be the question on rapper Katrina "Trina" Taylor's mind these days. Though the optimist in me wants to say, "Ho!" the fact is that few have successfully crossed over. The charts seem to offer about one space for the upstanding female emcee who sells without selling her body for every three Lil' Kim, Khia and Jacki-O-like starlets. Accordingly, "Queen Bitch" quickly cycles into "My Neck, My Back," which soon begets "Nookie," while "I'm Not Havin' It" is lapped and left behind, waiting with the baton. The bitch, ho and slut have permanent membership in the pop-star map, while deviations from this "norm" are viewed with suspicion. (Now, who's calling Ms. Hill crazy?)
Perhaps realizing this conundrum, Trina walks the line on her third album Glamorest Life. Relying on a production palette that spans across the nation for club heat, Trina comes up hot with her most diverse and complex album to date. Mannie Fresh pops by twice to offer some NOLA advice, and Jazze Pha connects Nellyish country grammar with G-funk ring-ding-dongs. And those are the most predictable cuts. Further out is the weepy "Here We Go" and brutish stomper "I Gotta." With generic versus name-brand producers, the album successfully displays the illusion of patterned substance.
This sonic accomplishment can be applauded on its own terms, but the album remains lacking in its principle goal of redefining Trina's persona. From track to track, she still wields her sexuality in a familiar boast, offering at most, "I done stepped my game up/ And sexed my frame up." Whether the line comes out direct - "But I don't come cheap/ So you gotta break Trina off if you really want the right young freak" - or figurative - "Pussy good, couple pumps, skeet, skeet/ But first I need that new Bentley" - she repeats the same themes.
Fortunately, Trina's voice has become weathered and a tad to' up, adding a welcome grit to her meh rhymes: "I gotta car note for a baller, nigga/ I gotta gay friend you can call a nigga" (on the flipside, a relatively milquetoast line like "I'm about to sign a Playboy deal" becomes walnut salad-tossing gross). However, the overly conservative themes place a noose around her development. She may no longer present herself as da baddest bitch who'd "make him eat it while [her] period on," but she has yet to let go of performing as "a classy ho."
Slip-N-Slide Records Web site (includes streaming audio)