Review Summary: memphis niggas toooooo buck
If someone was to draw up some sort of elaborate diagram depicting rap names arranged on a scale of sheer outrageousness, veritable Memphis aristocrat Kingpin Skinny Pimp might reside somewhere near the top. With a moniker that at first seems like it might be just too much (but on closer inspection rolls off the tongue fittingly), Skinny P’s name not only lays down an audacious claim as royalty to one of the hottest rap scenes of the 90s, he strongly implicates himself among a timeless and crude rap trope, non-existent respect for women; and even more, goes so far as to claim that he is in good shape!
As if all that weren’t enough, here was a guy ostensibly a fringe affiliate of the wider success of the Prophet Posse at large, a group that in the mid-nineties was at the top of its game before age-old disagreements about royalties or whatever ended their dynasty. One look at the album cover of King of da Playaz Ball
will tell you that nuts is something that K-Pimp simply does not lack, and with this chevy-cruisin’, bullet-holed, champagne-doused release he stood up and proved himself as possibly the most skilled rapper in the entire click.
For proof of the group’s confidence and flair at this stage in their career, listen no further than to the well-oiled production machine of DJ Paul and Juicy J in full effect. Refined, calculated beats dominate the record, shifting with ease between brooding narratives such as “One Life To Live”, laid-back lackadaisical grooves such as the spoof-like “Pimpin and Hoein”, and ominous slammers like “Y’all Aint No Killaz” or “Don’t Test Me”. This aptitude is accentuated by the abundance of scratching; licks such as the percussive accents towards the end of “Lookin For the Chewin” ricochet off the patently repetitive hooks throughout the album to produce a truly engrossing experience while never exceeding their want.
Compelling guest verses on King of da Playaz Ball
, particularly from Three 6 Mafia members, are featured in abundance. The ever-immersive Lord Infamous has several, standing out particularly on his fiendishly fantastical part of “Y’all Niggaz Ain’t No Killaz”. Gangsta Boo coolly drops a collection of brazen bars on the mystical “I Don’t Love Em”, an engrossingly evil track that would have suited Three 6’s most popular album; one which was rightly also reworked for Koopsta Knicca’s incredible release Da Devil’s Playground
, and the man himself in fact features at the end of that very track. Even dark horse Crunchy Black lays it down with an affably addled verse on the raucous “All About Them Prophets”, and other Prophet Posse members contribute prominent verses too, such as Gangsta Blac’s rowdy verse on “Y’all Niggaz Ain’t No Killaz” and K. Rock’s balls-out bars on “We Ain’t No Playa Hataz”.
With all this considered, Kingpin Skinny Pimp well and truly earns his merit at the forefront of the album with his tireless ability to engage the premium production, effortlessly adapting his flow to different beats; easily keeping the listener rapt on the likes of the anecdotal "One Life to Live", affecting whimsical braggadocio on tracks like “Pimpin’ and Hoeing” or “Midnight Hoes”, and spitting lines of raw magma on belligerent bangers like “Don’t Test Me”. Considering just how many words he crams into the majority of his verses, his consistency throughout is remarkable, with countless standout lines and killer soliloquies. His Memphis-repping lyrics are as unpretentious as they are absorbing, the strength of his line-writing is corroborated by the fact that a number of them feature here and elsewhere in the varied Prophet Posse catalogue as hooks. Skinny P was also evidently one of the main proponents of Prophet Posse’s short-term beef with Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, based the ice cold derision he drops on dis “Let’s Start a Riot”.
Album standout track “Nobody Crosses Me” is one of the best Memphis rap tunes of all time, a grim anthem which ingeniously samples not only significant swathes of the movie Scarface, but also lifts part of its superb, dominating hook from the Geto Boys track/member of the same name. This track epitomises Skinny’s skills, tongue snapping lines and what can only be described as staccato rapping swagger over sinister synths, echoing snare and the iconic, bizarrely accented remonstrations of Tony Montana.
The enduring appeal of this song was demonstrated with a much belated video release in 2017 that garnered some attention on the internet, where Kingpin Skinny Pimp evinced the sorry fact that perhaps, after all, his name was too much to live up to: by looking conspicuously overweight.