B.G.: Heart of tha Streetz Vol. 1

Lee Henderson

At his best B. Gizzle is the Dirty South's anti-Robocop machine.


Heart of tha Streetz Vol. 1

Label: Koch
US Release Date: 2005-05-24
UK Release Date: Available as import
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With New Orleans under water and the possibility of the American infrastructure towed down with it, Internet blogs are also drowning in Southern MP3s. If there is one strange postive outcome from the catastrophe and ruin it's the sudden realization at how much the region has given to the culture of the United States. Fats Domino was lifted to safety from his submerged house. Has anyone heard from Trent Reznor? I visited the website of B.G.'s label Chopper City the other day and it was no longer there, as if somehow even a website can be washed out by a hurricane. Can that be? (I looked for No Limit and had the same problem. Cash Money was fine.) Has the United States done enough to save its own culture? Will the rest of the world see how Bush botched the relief effort as a sign that America continues to disregard its black population?

The government didn't act in time to prevent many deaths, or properly evacuate poorer residents, but they got there too late to save the areas from serious outbreaks of violence. And while the government ignored the poor and the black, the media revealed its own very not liberal bias: Calling blacks "refugees" for no necessary reason, and pictures of those refugee blacks going after food (to survive) were called "looters", even while their white counterparts were obviously just "finding" food. No one splashing through waist-deep water through the aisles of a 7-11 to grab a case of Budweiser and six loaves of white bread is a looter. That person is allowed the right to live, and not get shot at by the police. I'll tell you how the terrorists are winning this war: Hyper-paranoid cops so trigger happy the minute they see anyone do anything against the rules, they open fire. Fuck the police. How does America answer for these gratuitous, sickening, and hypocritical errors? A country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for reasons that keep changing, spending billions per month training its uneducated youth to kill brown people, that's why the police are shooting and the government won't spend the money when it comes to saving its own brown people. You know what these people are called? Racists. America is still, and probably always will be a racist country.

Anyone who listens to rap has known this since like, forever. Anyone who ever listened to black music from America for even a day of their life knows that the USA is a racist country. And if black music is any indication of wholescale cultural discontent, then rap is the sound of another storm on the horizon. And since the days of No Limit and Cash Money, New Orleans has been an insurrectionary city, pushing rap further into the rain of bullets. Crack cocaine, the worst drug in widespread use, is celebrated by rappers as the fastest way to raise yourself out of poverty. B. Gizzle is pretty obviously the template that Young Jeezy used to jumpstart his career. Both rappers tell their stories in a slow, sing-a-long flow, half-rapped, half-sung in a mid-throat drawl, blunted and emotional, and full of good advice for everyday gangstas. B. Gizzle, or B.G. (once known as Baby Gangsta because he started rapping professionally for Cash Money at TK) has been through enough shit to know how to survive the psychological demands of life -- he just came out of rehab for heroin addiction to record this new record. Now has to deal with the fact that his home city of New Orleans is wrecked. The materialism of rap should come into question when you see what's a priority when property vanishes. People come together when a crisis hits. The diamonds don't mean shit when people are drowning in the mall. Gizzle, who coined the term "bling", was never a really materialist rapper. His stories were always about the grim realities of trying to make it as a poor criminal, and other than the wobbly New Orleans drawl, he didn't have a lot in common with Lil' Wayne or Baby, except a bad life story.

Aside from a couple doozily sour tracks near the middle that almost sink the album, Heart of tha Streetz is an inventive album. These are the same mis-steps that a lot of Southern rappers are making these days. Unlike the problems that beset New York rappers (beef, mostly), the most challenging part of the Dirty South scene must be all the niche markets. Added to the enduring love for gangsta rap and booty bass (bless the booty bass), there's the newly acknowledged splinter styles like crunk, stripper music, rider music, trap music, purple drank music, purple kush music, whisper music, gatz music, get-your-cake-up music, trustworthy click music and city/town/county/state representing�these aren't fully fledged genres so much as overlapping circles on a Dirty South Venn diagram.

A modern rapper from a Southern state can pretty much glom an album together by splitting up his time recording tracks meant to please each of these mini-markets. The worst of B. Gizzle's tracks are meant to please specific target markets, rather than blend his tastes a bit more to do something more original. "U See Why" is a shrimpboat rap, a little sunset romance on the swamp streets. With a touching chorus and happy beat, this is the lightest track on Gizzle's album, and weirdly, it's also the best. The clubs bounce "Where Da At" and "Tk tk", but "U See Why" is the kind of track that very subtly represents a bit of the diverse musical background that exists in New Orleans. "Work Dat Ass", (guess the target markets), "Ride With That", "Roll With Me", and "Get Ya Game Up" are all tributes to their niche markets and none of them are actually terrible tracks. But the sound is business-as-usual, with emphasis on the business. The ideas in these minigenres don't seem to inspire Gizzle to make too much effort at wordplay, slang flipping, and dark narratives. The music is bananas, and Gizzle's only defect is the lyrics. His voice sounds a lot alien, Star Wars swagger, dangerous interstellar amphibious gangsta straight outta Venus. At his best B. Gizzle is the Dirty South's anti-Robocop machine, making techno blow how guns go, more nasal snow flow, forever.







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