Yung Joc: Hustlenomics

Josh Timmerman

Yung Joc enlists big-name producers and guest-rappers for his passable, but generic, sophomore album.

Yung Joc


Label: Bad Boy Online
US Release Date: 2007-08-28
UK Release Date: 2007-10-15

Do we really need Yung Joc? Posing this question at the start of a review probably comes off as more mean-spirited than it's intended, but, honestly, what niche is this dude filling in today’s rap climate? Sure, I had “You Know You See It” and “It’s Goin’ Down” stuck in my head for about half of last year, and there’s a small handful of tracks on Joc’s sophomore outing that are almost as infectious as his name-making hits. But let’s be realistic here, the guy’s not a particularly good rapper, in any arguable sense -- flow, wit, swagger -- and music with his name attached to it is generally best when he has as little to actually do with it as possible. There are literally dozens of Southern rappers reinventing the form as I type this. Yung Joc is not one of them.

Take “Coffee Shop”, the first single from Hustlenomics, as an example. Yep, it’s another forced/extended metaphor hip-pop track. In this case, using an, uh, coffee shop as (I guess) a coded stand-in for the drug game. With its bouncy Don Vito production and nursery rhyme-style sing-along chorus, it’s inevitably catchy. As this sort of thing goes, it’s preferable to 50's “Amusement Park” but not his “Candy Shop”. Tellingly, it’s probably the best song on the record, for which credit is due even partly to Joc (The Game kills the DJ Quik beat on “Cut Throat”, which also includes a nice Jim Jones cameo).

But, of course, this is America and, more importantly, a subjective medium. Uber-gimmicky Soulja Boy has one of the year’s biggest hits, and the nearly unlistenable Devendra Banhart retains something like a musical career. Thus, Joc has every right to forge ahead, willfully oblivious of his own relative irrelevance. And, naturally, he does what any marginally talented, deeply generic rapper would do in his position: enlist big-name guest collaborators.

In addition to the aforementioned Game, Jones, and DJ Quik contributions, Diddy, Snoop, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, Jazze Pha, Cool and Dre, and the Neptunes all show up in one form or another here. Not surprisingly, the best moments on Hustlenomics typically come when these guests step up to the mic (or the boards), do their thing, and, crucially, momentarily take the pressure of carrying his own album off Joc’s trembling shoulders. The most significant exceptions are “Hell Yeah” and “BYOB”, which -- not surprisingly either -- prove that the ‘Tunes have yet to regain their world-beating mojo. (What was the last killer Neptunes track anyway? “Hollaback Girl”?)

If this album proves nothing else, it’s that the formula still works: hire A-list producers and guest rappers, and you’re all but guaranteed a passable hip-hop record. Which is exactly what Hustlenomics is to its core, a disposable album that your average rap fan will presumably find pleasing enough for a few spins around the block. Joc’s the Good Charlotte of rap -- not particularly skilled, not particularly “authentic”, just in-tuned enough to what’s moving units to shrewdly follow suit. I do, however, recommend this album to music critics who rushed to accuse Curtis of being the nadir of soulless, charmless rap formula. Think again, friends.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.