The Dirty South. Even among mainstream hip-hop fans, this branch of rap is not regarded with much seriousness or respect. Lil' Jon and The Ying Yang Twins seem to be the poster boys for this style of hip-hop, as rappers who make fun beats with really lame rhymes. Lil' Jon himself does not have much rapping skill, he is more known for the beats that he makes other artists. In 2002, the relatively unknown rap duo YoungbloodZ recruited Lil' Jon for one song on their upcoming album, Drankin Patnaz. The result was Damn!
Damn! was the first single off of Drankin Patnaz. I still regard this song as the best to come out of the entire dirty south music scene. This may have been the hottest beat that Lil' Jon has ever come up with, and the rhymes of Youngbloodz are almost as good. On this song, they showed that they could flow fast or slow, and their rhymes were seamless. Not too much originality, but they represented the finest "crunk" lyricists that the south had to offer at the time. This single was a huge hit, and the reason that most people bought this album.
Youngbloodz is made up of two rappers, named Sean Paul and J-Bo. What's remarkable about these rappers is how hard it is to distinguish them from each other. The tone of their voice is nearly identical, and they both seem to have the same rhyming style. Neither of them are very original at all in terms of lyrical topics. If you take a glance at the song titles on this album, that will probably tell you enough. Their individual rhymes are rather good, as good as you could expect from a crunk group.
Despite the rhyming skill of YoungbloodZ, the beats are the centerpiece on this album. In points, it is easy to entirely forget about YoungbloodZ's rhymes and just listen to the beat. J-Bo and Sean Paul let you take that path, they never really try to draw the listener into the lyrics with bold statements or skilled rhymes. Damn! is the perfect mix, with the YoungbloodZ not letting your focus stay too much on the beat. On some of the other tracks, it seems like they are just being lazy or purposefully suppressing their rhyme skill. While that may be good for a party, if you want to listen to an intelligent rap song by yourself, most of the songs on this album are not for you.
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like YoungbloodZ were working as hard as they could on this album. In the Dirty South, it seems to be "cool" to do a half-as
sed job on your album. Several tracks on this album are just so infuriating. With a little more work, they could be made into decent or good songs. But the YoungbloodZ deserted them when they were half-finished. One great example of this is Tequila. I actually think that the YoungbloodZ came up with the idea for this song and recorded it during one epic drinking binge. J-Bo and Sean Paul actually sound drunk during the hook of this song. While it may have been on purpose to go with the "tequila" theme of this song, it is painful to hear. I really don't want to hear a drunk man yelling during the hook for a hip-hop song.
Mind On My Money seems to be another half finished song. While I'm okay with songs that have generic topics, this song crosses the line. Half the song has the YoungbloodZ rapping "I got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind" repeatedly. It is one of the most repetitive rap songs that I have ever heard. J-Bo and Sean Paul attempt to direct the listener's attention to the beat, but the beat is one of the worst on the album. A very tedious song.
Many other songs fall into the sea of mediocrity on this album. They display a lack of effort and originality. Eventually, everyone gets tired of listening to a sweet beat. Another aspect is needed to make songs consistently interesting, whether it be skilled and original lyrics or an interesting song atmosphere. For the most part, the YoungbloodZ could not deliver that. However, when the YoungbloodZ click, the results are stunning.
The YoungbloodZ only really reach their full potential on three songs on this album. Those songs are: Damn! (of course), Watchu Lookin' At, and Lane To Lane. I have already discussed Damn!, and it is pretty clear that is a good song. Lane To Lane is the second best on the album. Unlike the shallow, party beats on the rest of this album, the beat on this song was actually crafted to fit the lyrics. A novel concept, no doubt. The beat is ominous and full of tension, with occasional piano bursts to accentuate the YoungbloodZ lyrics. The vocal delivery on this song is great. The lazy, “I don't care" tone of the rest of the album disappears on this song. Their vocals are tense, but nonetheless confrontational. The rhymes themselves are not excellent, the usual for this album. But the vocal delivery and the beat create a very cool atmosphere on this song. If the YoungbloodZ gave their full effort on all of the songs on the album, I expect they would turn out like this.
Watchu Lookin' At is not quite as good, but is still a great song. The highlight of the song is the intro. It builds tension steadily, with an ominous beat and mumbled lyrics. This is probably the second best song on this album in terms of rhymes. The YoungbloodZ change flow styles a lot, and they yell some of their rhymes to catch the listener's attention. It's great to see the YoungbloodZ try to do something besides let the listener concentrate solely on the beat. The beat is another good one, but nothing spectacular. A good song.
One annoying thing about this album is the skits. Skits have become a necessity in modern rap albums, but the skits on this album are just pointless. At least artists like Kanye West manage to make their skits interesting. I don't know why they added them in the first place, but just skip over them.
Many mainstream hip-hop fans are criticized for just downloading the songs they like, and not the whole album. This album shows you why that is the case. Unfortunately, mainstream hip-hop has been a contest of who can get the best producer, then throw together an album around two or three killer songs. It's really too bad, but it's the case. Regarding this album, it shows very little effort. However, there are some very cool party beats, and three killer songs. Just download a few tracks and leave this on the shelf.
Lane To Lane
Watchu Lookin' At