In honor of today’s review I spent last night watching The Godfather, the epic gangster movie that’s been the inspiration for all other gangster movies, and more than a couple gangster rap albums. It’s not often I get to bust out the popcorn as part of my job, but I thought it was essential to understanding the life and times of Baby, a.k.a. Birdman, a man who modeled his Southern hip-hop empire on the mafia model. In fact, he could rightfully be called the Godfather of New Orleans rap: just like Don Corleone he’s an …
DJBooth Album Review
While comparing The Godfather and Baby’s new album 5 Star Stunna isn’t completely accurate; The Godfather is one of the ten best movies ever made, while 5 Star Stunna is one of the ten best albums released last week, there’s more than enough evidence to make some pretty solid connections. Don Corleone knew he was getting older and was counting on his sons to carry on the family business. In Baby’s case that would make B.G. the Fredo of Cash Money (the son who betrayed the family but was mournfully accepted back), Juvenille would be Sonny (the strong son who was too hot tempered to run the business), and Weezy F. Baby is Michael (the son who unexpectedly emerges as a capable and talented heir to the throne).
Weezy’s place at the top of the rap game has been Baby’s biggest success, and so it’s no surprise he plasters his son’s name all over 5 Star Stunna. He’s undoubtedly banking on Wayne’s name to draw listeners, but fans will be disappointed to find that while he appears on seven tracks, he only really raps on two. Most of the work put in by “the greatest rapper alive” is on the chorus side of the equation, like the trunk-rattling I Run This. A mediocre beat and a surprisingly tame hook from Weezy isn’t nearly enough to save I Run This from mediocrity, especially considering Baby’s nearly comatose flow. No one’s expecting the Birdfather to be Nas, but I have to believe he can do better than rhyming “b****es” with “b****es.” Genuis. It’s no surprise then that the most Wayne heavy song on the album is also its best, the unstoppable Pop Bottles. The beat manages to combine every Southern production trick in the book, from trap music drum rolls to snap music breakdowns. Meanwhille, Wayne spits some gloriously obscene rhymes and Baby drops a straight cash flow that gets the job done. Pop Bottles isn’t a dope Baby song, it’s a dope song Baby happens to be on, but it’s still worth throwing on the next time you’re poppin’ bottles.
Don Corleone knew his strength was in loyalty and debts owed, and Baby must have collected on some serious favors for the radio-ready 100 Million. The Cash Money crew has relocated to Miami since Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, and you can hear the sunny Miami sound invading 100 Million’s banging production. The MC roster runs deep on 100 Million, with Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and yes Lil Wayne putting in work. Aside from some predictably aggravating ad-libs from DJ Khaled, everyone who grabs a mic does the damn thing. Birdman reaches out to his Terror Squad associates for some help on Make Way, a synth-dominated track featuring a crackin’ verse from Fat Joe and some insanely reggae-influenced singing from Weezy. Oh, and Baby raps for exactly 23 seconds. That’s about 12 seconds too long.
Though I would never question Baby’s abilities as a businessman and a stunna, I get the feeling even he knows he’s no 5 star rapper. With that in mind 5 Star Stunna is exactly what it’s supposed to be; an album that will bring in some dollars from Baby’s longtime fans, and maybe pick up a few new fans while its at it. By the way, 5 Star Stunna is also one of the most instrumental-worthy albums in recent memory. From the stomping Head Busta to the cinematic I Love My Hood, the beats alone might be worth picking up a copy. And no I’m not being paid to say that - though for the record if Baby offered me 100 million for a great review, well that might be an offer I couldn’t refuse.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 12/19/07
Cash Money Records
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"We Fly High (Remix) ft. T.I., Young Dro, Diddy & Baby" (2006)
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