Being a longtime big fan of West and East coast Hip Hop I've recently taken an interest in the southern scene which flourished in the late 90s through record labels like No Limit Records and Cash Money. "Outkast", "Killer Mike" and "Master P" have been great discoveries but I've struggled to find much beyond them that's appealed to me and learning about Cash Money and their history I was brought to this record, Chopper City In The Ghetto. The album cover stood out to me as being one of the better, and most atypical of the trend of that time created by Pen & Pixel Graphics. Now looking horribly dated this first wave of photoshop overkill had a lot of gnarly over effected microsoft word fonts and stitched together images, however this one strikes a fair balance and holds up well, but lets talk about the music.
My first impression of this record has held up play after play, this is a solid collection of instrumentals with a distinct style that has B.G's softer rapping presence accompanying them. Initially I felt B.G was tame, inoffensive and calm but quickly I saw this in a good light. His raps are delivered steady, with a soft tone and controlled energy that comes across as borderline spoken. As the lines, verses and hooks become familiar the subtitles come across as his raps hold up time and time again. There's a lot of street talk, bling bling and boasting and it lacks a meaningful depth at times but that's far from what its about. It enjoyable, fun and easy on the mind. There's an absence of technicality and "wow" moments the occasional overuse of one worded rhymes and over simplistic lines e.g "I go for a walk past the chalk, give me the fork for the pork" but B.G can write a hook and deliver it and his style is enough to make this record work.
The chemistry between beats and rhymes is on point, however the instrumentals get the merit with focused and consistent production from Mannie Fresh who delivers 67 minutes of balanced numbers that bring a distinct mood reminiscent of an espionage, undercover spy vibe to many of the tracks, "Play'n It Raw" reminding me of Goldeneye from Nintendo 64. The compositions show their strength through instruments that sound both dated and fantastic, reminding one techniques and limitation not heard so much anymore. The drum machines are cut hard with rigid kicks and snappy snares that lack reverb or any volume variation yet sound terrific. The accompanying midi controlled instruments, bass, synth, ghetto whistles and plucked leads are on the minimalist side with simplistic, to the point melodies that balance varying degrees of complexity (within simplicity) across a spread of sounds that quietly add up to crafted tunes with depth and a fair use of rhythmic instrument hits (Bling bling) to tie the instruments to the core rhythm.
I'm still very much enjoying this record and will continue too, the features of Big Tymers, Turk and Juvenile is warming me up to more southern artists, especially Lil Wayne who I formerly had a negative opinion of thanks to buying into the "Hes not real Hip Hop" comment's on Youtube video, without checking him out for myself. He's fantastic on this record on features on my favorite song "Niggaz In Trouble" which has an interesting song structure that flips between a bi-polarizing southern hitter and a oldskool rhythmic groove. As the album stretches on I personal enjoy the final tracks more and this one also features the classic "Bling Bling" song. Great record, very happy I found it.
Favorite Songs: Trigga Play, Play'n It Raw, With Tha B.G, Knock Out, Real Niggaz, Dog Ass, Cash Money Roll, Niggaz In Trouble, Hard Times, Uptown My Home