Friday, 20 November 2015

Juvenile "400 Degreez" (1998)


Returning to the dirty south again I picked up this record from the Cash Money crew that's been hailed as a classic. Fronted by one of the better heavily shopped covers it has Juvenile surrounded by fire, golden frames and a sprinkling of sparkling diamonds. Coming from New Orleans Juvy brings a weight of localized slang and pronunciation to digest as he spits with a limp, twisting words to his style, moving syllables, slacking on fidelity in favor of a southern rawness. Production is once again handled entirely by Mannie Fresh of Big Tymers who delivers a solid collection of beats with one or two distinct numbers.

The record opens up with a classic track "Ha" that could turn many a listener away with verse after verse of raps with a single rhyme, "Ha". Juvy shows his skills in other tracks but on this one poses a bunch of questions that creates a range of scenarios relevant to his environment. His flow is lethargic, in a laid back way, pronunciation loose and casual while keeping to the tempo. His charm comes from the subtle grooves and tone shifts as his delivery works like an instrument chiming in with the music. His deliveries trump his rhymes time and time again with the exception of "You see me? I eat, sleep, shit and talk rap! You see that 98 Mercedes on TV, I brought that!". Classic opening verse on the title track.

Its a standout track, and its production brings a dark and gritty vibe to an ethereal and spacey chorus as morphed vocals sweep through the spacious atmosphere, saluted with a subtle roll of bells in the mid. The tracks are mostly composed of electronic instruments typical of the era but in the rhythm department the kicks, snares, hi hats and stabs bring a distinct bounce and southern groove. Doubling up on the beat the songs often drop in shuffling hi hats and harsh 4/4 claps onto the beat. Its raw, and sets a president for further experimentation, which would have an influence on Trap music. Overall its a great record but between its better tracks the 72 minutes does feel stretched. Unlike B.G. these Cash Money rappers don't keep me captivated on that side of Hip Hop music as much as the instrumentals do.

Favorite Tracks: Ha, Ghetto Children, Follow Me Now, Welcome 2 Tha Nolia, Back That Azz Up, 400 Degreez
Rating: 6/10

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