Album Review — 20 December 2009

By Fawn Renee

Everyone can’t do everything. Not every producer can rap. Not every rapper should be a CEO. And not every CEO has the business savvy or selflessness involved to develop another artist. Take Jay-Z for instance; phenomenal rapper, sub par CEO. Music fans can now add Lil Wayne to that list. The multi-platinum rapper, who seems to be able to sell ice in the winter, is trying his hand at artist development with his latest project, Young Money. So far, not so good.

With a roster that sounds more like a street gang than a Hip-Hop collage, the debut album from Young Money sounds more like a mixtape than an album. Wayne and Drake are the obvious starters, with Nicki Minaj, Jae Millz, Lil’ Twist, Tyga, Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda, T-Streets, Lil Chuckee and songstress Shanell as the assists. The 15-track debut lacks substance and cohesiveness, which may not come as a shocker for most, as how the OG of the bunch is a self-proclaimed substance abuser. Still, as a music lover and fan, you expect someone of Weezy’s standing to produce far better work than this.

“Gooder” is a deceptive opening track, featuring Young Money veterans Jae Millz, Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda & Mack Maine. The track features a throbbing bassline and tyrannical hi-hata, laced by the team’s gritty rhymes. Wayne brings the song full-circle with his signature “rapper turned singer” hook, singing, “Times ain’t the same. Shit done gone bad. But nigga we gooder than a motherfucker. So fuck them niggas and fuck them hoes. Money talks. We say hello.” Not exactly the Iliad.

However, at first listen, the album shows promise. And as the album moves into its first single, “Every Girl,” the momentum continues. From the moment Wayne opens his mouth and the beat drops, head nodding commences. A sort of anthem for the male species, Wayne and friends explicitly share their love of women, multiple women. Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda and Mack Maine all pull their own weight on the album, but Wayne steals the show from the very first line. Production-wise, and lyrically, this song is the most complete and lucid on the album.

The album’s true colors begin to show on “Ms. Parker,” a track better suited for one of Wayne’s mixtapes than an on an album intended to provide a base for his label. It would be nice to discuss the purpose of the song, but there isn’t one. Wayne, Mack Maine & Gudda Gudda are just rambling about wanting to f*&ck Ms. Parker, an ode to the infamous character in Chris Tucker and Ice Cube’s Friday. “Wife Beater” is another place holder. “New Shit” is mediocre at best, giving the Young Money veterans a chance to showcase their lyrical chops without an elaborate backdrop as a distraction.

The album begins its apex with ‘Pass the Dutch,” which features Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda, Lil Twist & Drake. A basic beat, but the lyrical prowess of Wayne and Drake gives the song wings. While it could certainly do without Lil’ Twist’s feminine tone, Drake helps the song soar as he states, “October’s own is such a fuckin’ real set. No tats but the ink on my money’s still wet.”

The first introduction of Young Money’s crooner, Shanell, is a mixed bag. “Play In My Band” finds she and Wayne alone on a track, giving a proper introduction as an artist, with her sultry alto, and Wayne a chance to further explore his newfound heavy metal instincts. Though the song is great on its own, it doesn’t belong on this album. It sounds like a track from Rebirth that just didn’t make the cut.

“Fuck Da Bullshit” is sure to be a fan favorite, as it pairs Young Money’s prince and princess with Wayne on a murderous track, narrated by Birdman. Nicki Minaj’s voice is still nasal with lyrics still puerile in nature, but her flow is bold grimy on this track. Gudda Gudda continues to show his potential to be a first place winner on this track. Wayne is crass, as usual. The only real highlight of the song, still, is Drake, who almost feels out of place on this (and every other track he’s featured on) because he’s so much more skilled than anyone else on the roster. Again, he kills the song, ‘How’d you sleep on me? The highest earning freshman. Like your third infection, I hope you learned your lesson.”

The mini-peak ends with the album’s second single “Bedrock,” which features Lloyd. Here, we get to see the animation Minaj provides with her vocal inflections, a signature characteristic of Wayne himself. Another explicit track where Wayne, Drake, Tyga and Gudda Gudda all mingle with the keys and synth strings effortlessly.

The remainder of the album is well below average, and that’s being generous. “Steady Mobbin’” features Gucci, and sadly this high-profile feature leaves the album in dire need of resuscitation. “Roger That” is the final breath for an album that’s lifeless by its end. The song ends where “Gooder” began, a hardcore beat with gritty rhymes. When the track ends, so does the potential for this debut.

We’ve learned to love Wayne for who he is. Unfortunately his protégés will have to earn that respect; the reality of which Wayne seems oblivious. Either way, We Are Young Money does nothing to solidify Young Money’s place in the rap game. Drake stands on his own as an exceptional talent, which is painfully obvious throughout the entire album. If Young Money continues on this path, they certainly won’t be considered a sure bet.

black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbshalf out of 5

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(8) Readers Comments

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Pingback: Planet Ill » Album Reveiw: Young Money-We Are Young Money < Googly UK Buzz

  3. Sorry but this is a ridiculous review, any Young Money fans I know love this album..Wayne has already showed he has what it takes, look how much Young Money is blowing up. And yeah, Drake is the best on YME, but the other rappers all have solid lyrics on most of their tracks…Not sure how you can say Young Money isn’t a sure bet when they are on fire right now, and are just gonna continue rolling

  4. In addition to what Jake said, the review is question from the start by making the Jay-Z Lil Wayne CEO comparison. The only CEO mistake you can say Jay-Z made was working at Def Jam. Even then you had a bunch of over the hill past their prime NY only rappers, and Jay answered to LA Reid and other people at Def Jam/Universal who controlled the budget.

    People need to get over that. Method Man, LL Cool J, Beanie Sigel etc… their time is DONE!!! True, they may still make some decent music, but nothing marketable, and nothing the world wants to hear.

  5. “pass the dutch” aint twist, that be short dawg on the hook and second verse..personally think best song on album with great beat flow and lyricism from everyone on that track..weareyoungmoney hands down hot all around deserve some more respect

  6. Hello Gentlemen:

    I will address Jake first. I am not negating that Young Money fans will love this album. What I’m implying is that only Young Money fans will love this album, which isn’t saying much in the grand scheme of things. I’m glad we can agree that Drake is the staple of Young Money Entertainment. That’s not to imply that the other rappers are garbage, but that they appear that way when paralleled on an album with someone like Drake or Wayne.

    Steve, I’m not implying that Jay-Z failed at being a CEO of a label, but rather that being a CEO wasn’t his strong point. I cannot name one single artist on his label that grew to be a phenomenal talent. And that’s not a slight to the artists under his umbrella, but it speaks to his ability to develop another artist. Rightfully speaking, the only artist that has received critical success under his sole guidance is Rihanna. Wayne is just beginning to utilize his role at President and CEO of Cash Money to develop other artists. His success can’t be measured just yet, but if this album is any indication, he has his work cut out for him. Drake (like, let’s say a Kanye West) pulls his own weight.

    And to my last commentator, I like “Pass the Dutch” too :-)

    *Thanks for reading guys.- Fawn Renee

  7. i have to agree with the review. it was pretty dead on. Drake is far ahead of everyone else on YM..very obvious. album sounded like a mixtape for the most part. but the last track wasn’t bad…could get rid of the dude soundin like a 10 yr old girl (no offense to 10 yr old girls). Niki is aight. she can get a bit annoying at times and she tries to rap like wayne waay too much. Shanelle isn’t that hott (voice-wise)…heard better. her voice sounds very manipulated to me. i have hope for the crew tho. good luck to all of em (besides the teen rappers).

    and anyone notice that bow wow wasnt up here? did he feel he was above this? right now he should be fighting for any publicity he could possibly get.

  8. Pingback: Planet Ill » Manic Monday: Hamilton Returns, Nas & AZ, Juelz & Weezy, Black Milk

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