[21 January 2007]
It’s safe to say that Trick Daddy will not be influenced in the least by anything in this review, or in any review. This is his seventh album, and they all follow the same format—hard-bangin’ gangsta rap with brains and a sense of humor—and the eighth will be just like this one and the ninth, too, and on and on, until he’s not on this earth anymore, screw the critics and haters, etc.
So the pressure’s off, here, to send any kind of message to the artist. And there’s nothing I really have to say about the current state of rap, or any of its subgenres; the good stuff is good, the bad stuff is bad, your mileage may vary, all that stuff. (Well, except for the whole thing about how you’re being a big poop and missing out on a lot if you don’t listen to rap music. And probably the standard caveat about “why don’t these talented and creative young men stop being so violent and misogynistic, it’s a shame really.”)
This record is another pretty solid effort from good ol’ Trick Daddy Dollars, Miami’s toughest rapper and a real G for real. It’s about 20 minutes shorter than the average record like this, but it’s still jam-packed with fun songs. In many of them, TD talks about how tough life is on the streets for a cocaine dealer, about how he’s going to shoot and/or kill someone and then show up at his funeral, or have that someone’s bodyguard murdered and then bury him in woman’s clothing. The second half is largely full of sex-oriented songs, featuring paeans to larger-figured ladies and their bodily attributes and predictions that they will all enjoy getting down with him and his posse.
Describing it like that, of course, makes it sound like a bad album. It’s not. There are a lot of great performances here. His whole persona is based around the idea that he is the realest former dealer in rap music, and nothing makes for a better argument than his raggedy furious drawl. Trick Daddy is nobody’s idea of a righteous street poet or anything, but you always get the sense that he means the stuff he spits, that there is real anger and heartbreak behind his words.
There is also a palpable political edge here, which is only surprising if you never listen to southern rap music. The album’s best track, “Straight Up,” tells people, “Don’t be mad at the Iraqis / They ain’t the ones tryin’ to attack us / It’s slimy-ass niggas and redneck-ass crackas.” He then goes on to say, “Imagine a whole bunch of Cubans, niggers, and Haitians / Rebellin’ on your ass / For the shit you did to us in the past.”
Which is not to say that this perspective is a huge part of Back by Thug Demand. Most of it is just threats, braggadocio, and pimp lines. That’s why “Straight Up” stands out; the same goes for “Born a Thug”, which has an actual storyline, and forces the listener to come to terms with an actual dilemma—how can we outsiders expect anything to change for poor families when we don’t do anything to help their children? Other great tracks include the bluesy smash of “Chevy” (with Mannie Fresh, the only superstar producer on board) and the drugged-out closing jam “So High”, a horn-laden number featuring 8-Ball and Trey Songz.
(There are also a couple of skits. One is directly ripped off from a 2005 Mannie Fresh album (it’s always funny to hear a female computer voice call someone a “ho”), but actually takes it farther so it ends up being worthwhile anyway. In the other, we learn that Trick Daddy hates everything and everyone from the north, and that his friend Benji Brown can do a really great Chris Berman impression, for all that means. Which is a whole lot of “not much.”)
But too much of this is just kind of eh. My problem is not with the misogyny and bloody-mindedness on display here—I don’t expect to find my morals on anyone’s record, and I certainly prefer Trick Daddy’s funny, interesting take on things to the real nasty stuff pumped out by, oh say, Hinder or Nickelback. And I don’t really have anything against the way he keeps making the same album over and over again, because, y’know, why mess with a winning formula? I don’t even mind how all these songs seem to be addressed to me, threatening me, even though I haven’t done anything to Trick Daddy personally.
No, the real problem is that too many songs just kind of lie there—Trick doesn’t really sound like he’s feeling the Runners’ sluggish work on “Breaka Breaka”, and so his rap ends up being uninspired and unambitious. Kane Beatz has nothing to offer apart from faux-goth synth lines on “Tuck Ya Ice”, and they were used better on ELO records in the 1970s; both Trick and Baby just slur through their verses like they don’t care, so neither do I. And as much as I like “Bet That” as a single, it doesn’t help to get Chamillionaire on a record if he’s going to just kind of say the same things he always says.
All in all, this is a step down from the great Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets. I’m afraid we may have seen the best of Trick Daddy. Next time out, there needs to be a little more hunger, a bit more effort, and a whole lot of better beats.