The contemporary mean street side of hip-hop gets less appealing each time I hear it. And my latest encounter came via rapper/producer Jim Jones’s M.O.B. (Members of ByrdGang): The Album. No matter how you package it, mixing one-dimensional gangster attitude with trite Dirty South sampling still doesn’t make for good rap music. Opening track “So Cold” could’ve been a decent song had these guys actually eased up on the Frank Lucas/Scarface persona and shown more vulnerability. Like more commercial rap these days, the ByrdGang made me wonder if gangster rappers even take the time to think about how 2Pac or Chuck D et. al. expressed vulnerability without sacrificing swagger or attitude because doing so actually makes for a stronger more emotive message. Enough with the whistling snyth and electro-piano and click sampling as a scary ghetto mood enhancer; it’s a tired overused production element that actually makes me laugh my socks off more than shiver in my boots.
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