April 16, 2009 |
Review by: St. James
When I popped in the new UGK album “UGK 4 Life”, I anticipated that I would hear the classic sound of one of the best group’s of the south. I as a music lover, have pretty much grown up on UGK. Pimp and Bun, Dick Cheney and Tony Snow. As with any UGK album you will get tales of sippin’ lean and riding on fo’s in candy cars. What I did not anticipate is for the brothers from Port Arthur, Texas to EXPAND and grow with the sound that has made them famous for so many years. Imagine Outkast taking ATLiens to 8 Ball and MJG’s Living Legend. I can only imagine what was to come before the untimely passing of Pimp C from listening to this new opus. It only makes you miss The Pimp even more.
To begin, the beats on this album are very strong. The production is an updated version of the old UGK sound, with crisper drum patterns and sounds. The stand out tracks production wise are “Purse Come First’ ft. Bigg Gipp, “Used to Be” ft. E-40, B-Legit, 8 ball & MJG.
The song arrangement and feel is heavily influenced by Pimp C and his “country rap tune” sound. Smooth hooks like the one on “The Pimp and The Bun” feat. Ron Isley, Swishas and Erb ft. Sleepy Brown and the single “The Game’s Been Good To Me” strongly exhibit this facet. Raheem Devaughn also makes an appearence on the first track “Still On the Grind”, a guitar and synth laced track that does not follow the standard 90-98 bpm southern track but rather reminds me of “The Whole World” (by Outkast) updated with a PA, Texas feel. Lil Boosie and Webbie make an appearance on the song “Harry A**hole”, a classic piano ballad built off of Pimp’s famous lines “Got a Young Red Stallion/ That’s 20 years old/ when she pop it from the back/ you see that Harry A**hole. There are also 2 interludes (Texas Ave, 7th St.) that each feature a half of UGK giving you the classic flow over an old school slowed down sample.
Stand out tracks on the album would have to start off with the Single “The Game’s Been Good To Me”. Pimp and Bun describe every D boy’s plight of losing it all to the extent of sleeping on a mother’s couch, while still displaying an affection for the game that has them surviving. Also, “I Used To Be” ft. E-40, B-Legit, 8 ball & MJG is a classic track. Two of the best groups in the south ever collide with the West Coast brotherhood from the Bay. Laced with a strong horn and synth sample, MJG and E-40 deliver stand out verses including MJG claiming to be the “lesbian converter”. Lastly, “Purse Come First” ft. Big Gipp is probably the best complete track on the album. The subject matter, beat, and vocals lended by the duo and Big Gipp tell a real tale of the contridiction, greed, and evil that exists in the “so-called” beacon of freedom, the United States of America. Pimp C says “wouldn’t depend on Noriega/ if it wasn’t for no Reagan/Why all the Chrisitan holidays/the same day as the pagans. Bun B states “These Halliburton contracts and war profiteering/Dick Cheney is the president/you muthaf*ckas hear it? This song shows the growth in subject matter and maturity evolution that Pimp and Bun had undergone musically by specifically speaking out against government tyranny and it’s actions against the people.
The tracks that I felt did not really live up to expectations were the song “Steal Your Mind’ ft. Too Short. A song about gaining a girl’s confidence and trust in the goal of pimping her. It sounds formulated and the beat does not really lend to feel of the track. Too Short does deliver a solid verse however. Also, “Hard As Hell” ft. Akon is a track that could have been left off the album. It does not really fit the sound or continuity of the album. It describes what sounds like a stripper giving a lap dancing and them “poking like a nail” as the chorus states.
All in all, I would definitely recommend the purchase the new UGK album. It has the classic UGK sound but with better production and growth from the last 2 projects. It is sad that the Pimp is not here to put his stamp of approval on the project and witness himself the steps that UGK has taken to become an international success after years of Underground Kingdom. However, with the appearances, interludes, and “country rap tune” feel of the album, it shows us that Bun B and Pimp C will in fact give us UGK 4 Life.
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