Rap from the Dirty South has begun to take over the airwaves in a way no musical enthusiast could have ever seen coming. For the most part, Southern hip hop consists of a few key elements which, when mixed correctly, have the potential to make both a lot of money and a shitty song. These elements include an overtly complex beat with lots of bass and an obnoxious hook, a catch phrase that’s repeated throughout the duration of the song (either about sex, smoking weed, drinking heavily, or killing people), lots of yelling, sleepy rhyme schemes, and a guest appearance. This is not to say some Southern rappers aren’t talented (Outkast exists for a reason), but the majority of dirty, dirty dribble you hear on the radio, at frat parties, and in your neighbor’s car (who only listens to music for its excessive bass) is relatively bogus.
With Laws of Power, a new mix tape from the legendary , now composed of just DJ Paul and Juicy J, it’s hard to believe that the rap duo won an Academy Award (actually, the first African-American group to do so since Isaac Hayes). With an award of that caliber, you’d expect the group to consistently deliver quality material, but I assure you that on Laws of Power, this is not the case.
The first song we hear, after an overexcited introduction, is “Feel It”, one of the upcoming album’s (of the same title, with no intended release date as of now) first singles. The song features Flo Rida, Sean Kingston, and the King of DJs himself, TiÃ«sto. While TiÃ«sto, indeed, does keep his style present throughout the song, the lyrics consist of little more than “Break it down/to the ground,” and, “DJ turn the music up/I want to feel it/Oh oh.” And that goes on for five minutes. The next song is “Stay Fly/Aerodynamic”, which has a hopping beat that sounds like a factory in fast motion. But the lyrics are barely audible, and the ones I can manage to make out are about rolling up to the club and being famous. At least the production on these songs is immaculate; they had to leave room for creativity somewhere.
“Lil’ Freak” is a song with a chorus about a girl from Hollywood who likes to suck dick (“A long dick all like/Uh uh uh”). It’s reasons like this that a) we have parental advisory stickers (do we still?); b) we have protest groups; and c) so many feminists are opposed to hip hop. “Shake My” featuring Kalenna is another single off the upcoming record, where this girl chants throughout the duration of the song that she likes to shake her house. Meanwhile, rhymes are spat about a dancing girl (most likely a stripper) and how she makes the narrator tingly in his pants, which leads to the nail biting mystery on how he’ll obtain the required sexual access. Please note that those are not his exact words.
“Shots After Shots” features, who actually has all the best raps on the album. That doesn’t mean the song isn’t downright moronic. It’s highly probably we’ll see trashy bar owners playing it late-night to make insecure girls get naked. The song is literally about taking shots; the chorus merely states, “I’m a take shots until the day I die/Shots after shots/More!”. If it weren’t for Tech N9ne and his lightning fast rhyming, this song would be a total bore (he rhymes “evidence” and “elephants” while talking about orgies). “Body Parts 3” follows, and its disjointed rhythm becomes rather grating. Fast.
It doesn’t get much better. Twiztid and the Insane Clown Posse appear next on “I Shot a Hater”, where they talk about shooting haters in the head. Nelly appears a couple songs later on “Wanna Touch”, where over and over you’ll hear, “I just wanna touch” instead of “fuck” (which I’m sure was their intention). “Smokin’ on the Dro” is like a new age Mike Jones track, but for a dumber and younger audience. Tech N9ne appears again on “Demons”, a song about the wicked side of each rapper on the song. As you can imagine, they just talk about killing people and how their inner demons involve taking drugs. Chamillionaire pops up a moment later on “Doe Boy Fresh”, with a choppy chorus going, “Doe boy/Uh-doe boy/Fresssshhhhh” over and over and over again. The album’s final moments are “Slow Motion” a song paying homage to a Juvenile song I never found too impressive to begin with, and “Unite”, talking about bringing people together. Though, after an album filled with songs of hatred, sexual abuse, drinking, drugs, and shooting haters in the head, this call to unite is relatively half-assed.
I don’t mean to hate on the album this bad. The beats are at least pretty cool, making it slightly listenable, but I can’t listen to music with lyrics that are so mindless. Music, to me, takes a lot of thought, and all the rappers I do listen to rap about these subject matters, but in a sense that is smart, metaphorical, and unique. Shit, Eminem’s been rapping about how much he hates his wife for years, but the fact he tackles the subject matter from new angles and with different emotions makes it more intelligent than Juicy J talking about a stripper making his pecker hard. Listening to this mixtape was the equivalent of when I saw VH1 Hip Hop Honors Dirty South come on my TV; I thought it would be entertaining, but within the first five minutes, I wanted to get onto something better. After I post this, I’m digging up ATLiens and questioning the music industry, and hopefully my questions about the mainstream’s love for Southern hip hop will be answered in a sense I can connect with.