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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Underground Kingz

Rating: 6.7/10 ?

September 10, 2007
Say what you will of veteran duo UGK's constancy, but it deserves pointing out that the Ramones never had the gumption to make a double album, and if they had it would certainly not have been one devoted in large part to pimping. Of course, act large long enough and you'll eventually live large. UGK were boasting in a big way all the way back to Jay-Z's millennial smash "Big Pimpin'," before Houston was even on the map. Now, after one stint in jail for Pimp C and a well-received solo album (Trill) for Bun B, the two got their shit together and went #1 with this gloriously excessive (two discs, plus bonus tracks) reunion LP. Their last record, the low-balling Dirty Money, was dropped six years ago, but as is widely noted, during those six years, southern rap and Houston have blown up in a big way, thanks to screwed-and-chopped successors Young Jeezy and Slim Thug. Chart-toppers like T.I. kept these pimping pioneers in the limelight with the trunk-rattling homage "Front Back," and now UKG are collaborating with everyone from British grime king Dizzee Rascal to a reinvigorated OutKast.

The latter got their shit together for half of a wonderful player-vs.-groom tug o' war on the amazing single "Int'l Players' Anthem," backed entirely by Willie Hutch's "I Choose You," and 808s, with all four rappers weaving sly verses around the sample in four different ways. It's one of the best hip-hop songs of the year, and deservingly, the duo's biggest hit ever. While nothing else here comes close to the heights of that beanstalk, the rest simmers into a nice, rarely shifting speed-rap groove, with subtle touches like the organ swells and blues guitar on "Two Types of Bitches" and wailing shred-guitar loop on the leading "Swishas and Dosha." Of course, that last loop sounds great for a little bit, but five minutes it doesn't need, especially when there's about 115 minutes to go. That's the biggest problem with Underground Kingz. UGK's songs hardly leap out at you in the first place, and they mostly stay inside the sticky stutter-funk realm, so it's hard to discern much over two discs in a particularly repetitive genre.

Too long goes without saying, but it's also so consistent the album is a mesa rather than the usual mishmash of peaks and valleys. Listening back at random, I couldn't pick out much in particular to easily chop. Maybe Talib Kweli's bizarre guest spot "Real Women," with its airy falsettos and neo-soul backdrop is out of place just for respecting women. Memorable highlights are rare, too. Beyond "Int'l Players' Anthem," all I remember is the catchy "The Game Belongs To Me" ("They call me Mick Jagger / cuz I roll a lot of Stones") and the jazzy "Chrome Plated Woman," which compares women to just guess. Thematically, the album sticks to sex and dealing, though they get a few clever lines even within those tired tropes. On the titular drug from "Cocaine,": "We all know where it's at: everywhere but where it come from." And they slyly drape that one in Latin guitar. Who says old pimps can't turn new tricks?

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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