Hailing for Albany, Georgia, Boondox and Kalage attempt to offer a rural hip-hop perspective in their debut release. Indeed, they are at their most effective when delivering humorous takes on growing up poor in the South, rather than boasting about hos and bling bling. During these moments of sincerity they are able to overcome their weaknesses: cornball skit interludes, the grating style of shouting out all their lyrics, and the rather uninspired production of Ole-E and Pop. Recycled Dirty South beats, minus the dirt, and typical synth string rises and piano loops that we’ve heard a million times before on hip-hop albums put the focus squarely on the lyrical delivery. That’s good and well during Boondox and Kalage’s better moments, but when they falter, 613 is a painfully amateur piece of work.
And unfortunately, those faltering moments come early and often. Despite their claim of being Southern hip-hop pioneers (uh, guys, there’s this group Outkast that’s already pretty big. You might have heard of them), they quickly fall into the hip-hop cliché of rapping about—surprise—fucking around with hos. Lines like “licking my butt, she swallows cum, you don’t” sounds more like rehashed 2Live Crew than anything uniquely Southern. And forgive my skepticism when they rap about having sex with groupies. What groupies? Isn’t this their debut album? Then there are the back-to-back attempts on poignant commentary on cheating in relationships, “Da’ Durty” and “Cheatin’ on We”, but the best they can manage is, ““While you were cheating on me / I was cheating on you / We both was cheating on we / So what the fuck we gonna do?” These guys are all of twenty or so, so when they rap about relationship problems it comes across with as much authenticity as ‘N Sync singing about heartbreak.
It’s when they channel their youthful energy toward more humorous material that 613 becomes interesting. On the Slick Rick inspired “Channel 613, Part 1” Kalage raps about hijacking the Mystery Machine and delivers the inspired line, “Went to island of MTV, but go figure /Ananda and Tyrese were the only other niggers.” And on “Crutch”, possibly 613‘s best moment, they put a humorous spin on the agony of growing up poor: “I was so broke my wet dreams were about eating a meal.” It’s unfortunate that so much of the album’s energy is diverted into typical booty call tracks, but 613 shows flashes of a rap duo with potential for creating funny and meaningful material. And by the time their second album comes out, maybe they’ll be old enough to sell us on the sex stuff as well.