Lil’ Blacky is only 19, but young G’s grow up fast in the ‘hood. Well…that’s what it says in his promo package. LB comes out: “rollin’ like a straight pimp, big baller, shot caller—kickin’ the game harder than rap veterans twice his age.” Yay-eh! Squeezing a credible street-bio into so few years is tough. LB throws down the usual credentials: from pimpin’ and sellin’ the yellow powder, he turned to rappin’ when he was all of 17. Who cares that Lil’ Blacky looks too darn cute to have ever sold anything shadier than girl-scout cookies?
No matter how street he acts, Lil’ Blacky’s youth & suburban-ness shine through. On the title track he says he’s about to order a double gin and juice, and you know that line probably hit hard in front of his bedroom mirror: Back on up Dogg, the lil’ G wants a DOUBLE!!! When Lil’ Blacky delivers the line, though, he just sounds scared he may get carded. On the cover of Big Ballin’ LB poses in front of what is probably his mom’s car, with his hair slicked back, wearing a blue sweater with horizontal stripes that just screams “nice boy”. Yet Lil’ Blacky swears in his publicity that he’s laying down, “the sh*t that me and the homies live,” telling it, “like it is in the ‘hood.” The Hit a Lick promo department kindly uses asterisks to protect us, when Lil’ Blacky says “sh*t.” We know how raw it gets in the hood, but—sh*t! You have to draw the line somewhere.
West Coast gangsta rap exploded in six years from street enterprise to straight capitalism. Too Short sold rap tapes out of his car-trunk. Eazy E used drug money to start Ruthless Records and back NWA. Suge Knight and Dre set up Death Row. Capital from street-hustling was invested in ghetto talent. Underground distribution networks and word of mouth publicity did the rest. When Straight Outta Compton went double platinum without radio or MTV play, the white record industry had to sit up and recognize. In terms of ghetto rap fully supported by a ghetto audience, Too Short was the last gen-u-wine rapper. From NWA’s Straight Outta Compton on, as the geniusly brilliant movie White Boyz shows, the audience for gangsta rap was mainly suburban vanilla kids looking for something grittier than girly metal bands and whiny punk rockers to rule their hoodlum dreams. But Tupac and Snoop also sold suburban black youth the fantasy of an authentic ghetto identity fuelled by a keeping-it-real black economy, pulling itself up by its dope-pushin’, hoe-slappin’, gang-bangin’ Timberland straps, and turning street lead into showbiz platinum without going to college, taking advantage of the quota system, or becoming an okey-doke, honky-ass-kissin’, Huxtable-wanna-be like mom and dad.
Lil’ Blacky must have had his nose pressed up against the ghetto-windows those OG’s provided. He was six in the year of Straight Outta Compton, 10 in the year of The Chronic, 12 in the year of Doggy Style. Big Ballin’ sounds like it developed in those heady days when Lil’ Blacky mimed to his heroes, using his mom’s hairbrush for a mic. Musically, Big Ballin’ tries to simulate G Funk but only manages PG Funk. Lyrically, Lil’ Blacky dully plods the rut of classic gangsta rap themes. On “Somebody Please”, his homie got shot and only revenge can ease his pain. On “Super Baller”, he notes how in the hood, when people see him ride by, Lone Ranger style, they say “Does anybody know that Super Baller?” You can guess the rest. Lil’ Blacky’s relentless seriousity is the true killer here. Real G’s are FUNNY. Like Dre: “Niggah, you’s a penguin-lookin’ muthafucka.”
The only ray of hope here is the uncharacteristic “Low Rider Girl”. Oh I forgot, Lil’ Blacky also wants to represent himself as part of the Latin MC scene, although there is nothing remotely Latin about this CD. “Low Rider Girl” is a suburban teen’s fantasy of East LA life: the “girl” is a Chevy Impala that Lil’ Blacky buys as a wreck and restores and transforms. This song is about as realistically “street” Latino as West Side Story, but it is cute as a bug, and if Lil’ Blacky stopped trying to be hard, played up his smooth, nice-boy good looks, and wrote more novelty material like this, he might be able to afford his own car by the next album.
// Notes from the Road
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