April 12, 2007

Stepping Out of the Shadow

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“It’s about to go down!” Those words begin Young Buck’s sophomore effort, Buck the World, and he couldn’t have been more accurate. For the next seventy minutes, G-Unit’s Dirty South ambassador launches a high intensity lyrical assault, which begs the question, “Who is the G-Unit general?”
With song titles such as “Push Em Back” and “Funeral Music,” you get the feeling that Buck wasn’t relaxing on the couch when he put in the pencil work for his latest album. The trumpets blasting on tracks like “Buss Yo’ Head” and “Hold On” make every word out of Young Buck’s mouth sound like an epic war cry. Perhaps the most underappreciated of the G-Unit soldiers is a little hungry.
On an album where the emcee snatches listeners’ attention with a rare energy that brings hip hop fans right into the booth, work behind the boards is disappointingly mundane and uninventive. Whether it is soft R & B or trunk rattling gangster rap, each of the seventeen tracks sounds like someone put a “Typical Southern Hip Hop Only” sign on the studio door.
That being said, there is some interesting production work on “Say It to My Face.” On the record’s second track, the drums and the synth stay ahead of Buck’s lyrics so that the words have to chase the music. An unorthodox trick, this lack of alignment between music and lyrics confuses the brain and keeps the ears on alert, creating the illusion that the tempo is constantly speeding up; listeners better bring their running shoes for this one.
As ferocious as he sounds on songs like “Pocket Full of Paper,” Young Buck eases up on more soulful tracks such as “U Ain’t Goin Nowhere” and the Jazze Pha assisted “I Know You Want Me.”
While he brings 110 percent, Buck still leaves listeners wanting just a little bit more. Young does not stray far from the themes that hip hop heads have grown quite accustomed to. The album’s title track is about life’s struggles, “Money Good” is about stacking dollars and Buck boasts about his skills on “Clean Up Man.”
Vocal work by Snoop Dogg, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Young Jeezy, among others, does not have the same effect as it would alongside a less impressive emcee. With listeners craving his raw passion on every verse of the album, Buck renders the guest appearance obsolete. Buck also receives a helping hand from about as many producers as there are tracks, including Lil’ Jon and Hi-Tek.
After years of standing in the shadows of 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, the rapper who people saw simply as Tony Yayo’s replacement definitely shows that he doesn’t need any help from the rest of his crew. While 50 and others do make appearances on Buck the World, Young Buck takes the spotlight. Don’t let his name fool you, Young Buck sounds like he is a rapper with years of experience.